Larry Sanders Considering Return To The NBA

Dec 15, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders (8) drives on Phoenix Suns center Alex Len (21) during the first half at US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 15, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders (8) drives on Phoenix Suns center Alex Len (21) during the first half at US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports /

Is former Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders set to return to the NBA?

As we’re quickly approaching the one-year anniversary of the Milwaukee Bucks buyout agreement with Larry Sanders, reports suggest that there’s an increasingly strong chance that we haven’t seen the last of the 27-year-old in the NBA.

According to a report from Shams Charania at Yahoo! Sport’s The Vertical, the Florida native plans to return to the league as soon as his “off-court ventures stabilize”.

Perhaps most interestingly of all, having appeared to have completely lost his passion for the game at the time he stepped away, Sanders revealed that he “still loves basketball”

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"I still love basketball. I want stability around me, and part of my mindset to leave was not to put all my eggs in one basket.I feel highly valuable on any team. There aren’t a lot of people who can bring my game to a team. I still play basketball all the time, staying in shape. I will need to make sure the situation is right for me."

There’s no questioning that Sanders is a good defensive center, who if he truly is still in shape, could still make meaningful contributions on an NBA team for years to come. Judging from what he’s shared in the past, that leaves a lot of things both physically and mentally to fall into place though.

Sanders stepped away from the game after going through a troubled spell in his personal life, which all piled on to impact his ability to contribute on the basketball court.

Related Story: Larry Sanders Breaks His Silence

Following on from multiple suspensions from the league for drug use, a number of recurring injuries, and some troubles with the law, Sanders put basketball to the bottom of his list of priorities and even spent some time in a program for anxiety, depression and mood disorders.

It’s worth noting, this isn’t the first time whispers of a potential Sanders’ return have surfaced either.

Back in October, Gery Woelfel suggested that Sanders could be set to make a comeback in the Western Conference, an idea that seemed like it could hold credence as it was backed up by a variety of previous reports dating back towards the time of his buyout.

The Dallas Mavericks were considered a likely landing spot for him at the time, yet if the former VCU man was to effectively come out of retirement there would likely be multiple interested parties.

Sanders played over 230 total games with the Milwaukee Bucks posting career averages of 6.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks.

Sanders was a well-supported figure throughout his time with the Bucks, and that good feeling has continued on both sides since Sanders left the team.

Although the instinct of many Bucks fans may be to to feel a little annoyed about the prospect of Larry Sanders returning to the NBA to play elsewhere, while still being paid by the Bucks, there are a couple of important considerations to be made.

First of all, on a human level it would seem hard not to feel compassion towards somebody who made a decision that was clearly grounded in getting their life back on track. This isn’t like Sanders arranged a buyout only to resurface with the Warriors prior to the playoffs.

Secondly, and most relevantly for the Bucks, Sanders left $27 million of his contract on the table in the buyout negotiations. Milwaukee was backed into a corner with a player who they had just paid who wasn’t going to play. Technically, Sanders had no obligation to leave quite as much money on the table as he ultimately did.

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In an ideal world, Sanders would never have found himself in a place where he needed to step away, and he would have thrived for years with the Bucks. Considering all that’s transpired, it’s just nice to see that he has progressed to the point where a comeback may eventually be on the cards.