Could Larry Sanders Really Be Thinking Of Returning To The NBA?


Just when you thought it was safe to go outside again, Milwaukee Bucks fans, we have Larry Sanders news! Although it certainly might be more appropriate to term this one as a rumor.

Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times set many NBA fans’ minds racing with a tweet suggesting that a return to basketball could not only be on the cards for Sanders, but sooner than many might have anticipated too.

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Of course, speculation immediately became rife of potential landing spots for the former VCU man. The one that would seem most logical was the Dallas Mavericks though. Since failing to land DeAndre Jordan, the Mavericks have been desperately scrambling for options at center and quite possibly have not found one they like as of yet.

Of course, Bucks fans will remember that they traded for Zaza Pachulia in the immediate aftermath of the Jordan fiasco, yet since then the veteran Samuel Dalembert and the wildly unpredictable JaVale McGee have been added into the mix too.

There’s some concrete history to suggest that Dallas could attempt to persuade Sanders to come out of his self-imposed retirement to play in the NBA again too.

Back in February when news of buyout discussions between Sanders and Milwaukee emerged, Dallas were said to have a “cautious” interest. Tim McMahon of ESPN reported at the time:

"The Mavericks wanted to sign 36-year-old big man Jermaine O’Neal to address their desire for a rebounder and defensive presence to come off their bench. So of course they have some interest in a freakishly athletic 26-year-old center who is available only two seasons removed from being a legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidate. But the Mavs’ interest in Larry Sanders, based on conversations with team sources, is best described as cautious and complicated."

Aside from the obvious issues surrounding Sanders’ desire to play, McMahon also cited Sanders previous history of confrontation with then Maverick Monta Ellis as a stumbling block for any potential deal. Ellis is now an Indiana Pacer though. According to McMahon’s report, on the other hand there were factors conductive to a deal too:

"Sanders’ agent, Happy Walters, has a strong relationship with the Dallas front office and also represents Stoudemire and other key Mavs."

So, when Sanders, himself, tweeted the following yesterday, many made the jump to what seemed like an easy if potentially inaccurate conclusion.

Of course, he’s going to be a Mav, what other possible explanation could there be?

Well, maybe, he’s just on vacation. Or has some business to attend to. Or he’s visiting friends. Or countless other possibilities.

As it turned out from a Snapchat from Larry that was later shared on Reddit, he wasn’t even in Dallas in the first place.

According to Tim Cato of Mavs Moneyball, Dallas has no immediate plans to sign Sanders although there is some interest on their part.

"Right now, I’m told it’s only a “maybe,” and a long one at that with no current discussion going on between the two sides."

For a player who has clearly had a tough time coping with the pressures and demands of life as an NBA player, this move seems highly improbable though. If Sanders was to pull the plug on his time with the Bucks as he didn’t want to play basketball, like he did, only to do a U-turn a few months later and sign elsewhere; it would be controversial to say the least.

The Bucks stretched Sanders’ contract meaning that they will be paying him $5 million a year through to the end of the 2017-18 season. If he was to resurface playing, and making money elsewhere that could understandably cause a considerable backlash among Bucks fans.

That doesn’t seem like something Sanders would want either. He has always been highly complimentary about the Bucks organization and indeed the city of Milwaukee. In his farewell message to the city in his Player’s Tribune video, Sanders said:

"I wish I could have said goodbye formally, you know, to the Bucks at the arena, at the Bradley Center. I want them to know that it was never about them, that it was never about the fans or how they treated me because that was awesome."

It could be purely coincidental, but Sanders even retweeted the following photo last night.

I could be wrong, of course, but I’d wager that if Sanders’ basketball loyalties lie anywhere right now, it’s still with the Bucks.

So, in the meantime, every time I see a Larry Sanders story I’m going to have the same reaction.

Not again.

Next: Q&A With Franchise Legend And Broadcaster Marques Johnson

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