For my last entry in the Boston Celtics Center Solutions series I have concocted here at Hardwood Houdini, I focused on Omer Asik of the Houston Rockets. Personally, I feel Asik should be the rim-protector that the Celtics try to pull off a trade for . . . but a few readers made a case for Larry Sanders of the Milwaukee Bucks.
THE Larry Sanders who busted his thumb in a night-club altercation and missed all but 23 of the Bucks’ 82 games last season? THE Larry Sanders who was given a five-game suspension for violating the NBA’s drug policy at the end of this season? THIS Larry Sanders?
— Kurt Helin (@basketballtalk) June 10, 2014
Yep – THAT Larry Sanders! Oh boy – I’ve got my work cut out for me.
To help, I enlisted the aid of Nick Whalen, editor over at FanSided’s Behind the Buck Pass. Here’s what he had to say about Milwaukee’s young buck:
I’m willing to call the 2013-14 season a wash for Larry
Sanders. Yes, he made some undesirable headlines off the court. And yes, he
wasn’t overly impressive on the court, but he was never able to really get into
any sort of rhythm.
Three games into the season, he suffered the infamous
nightclub thumb injury and didn’t return until just before the new year. At
that point, it was clear Milwaukee was on a crash course with the high-lottery,
and Larry Drew’s rotations had reached all-time levels of questionability. When
Sanders returned, he was playing sporadic minutes and finding himself on the
floor with different teammates each night. Still, he managed some very
respectable defensive and rebounding numbers.
The biggest concern, unsurprisingly, was on the offensive
end. Due in part to the thumb injury, Sanders showed little-to-no improvement shooting
the ball. Like most 6-11 players, he can finish at the rim, but outside of the
restricted area he’s an unmitigated disaster. In the offseason, the hope was
that he’d expand his range to 10-15 feet – just enough that he could knock down
occasional open looks. But even in a small, 23-game sample size it was
abundantly clear that Sanders hadn’t improved his offensive game.
Going forward, Sanders has a ton to prove. Not only does he have to prove he’s moved past the
off-court issues that damaged his image last season, but he also must live up
to the expectations bestowed on a player earning $11 million per year. Signing
Sanders to a four-year, $44 million deal last summer seemed like the right move
at the time. But in hindsight, locking Sanders up could be more detrimental to
the Bucks’ salary situation in the long run. The thought seems to be that
Sanders is available for the right price this offseason, but taking on $44
million in guaranteed money is a daunting proposition for most franchises. For
that reason, I find it hard to believe Sanders won’t begin next season in a
Could Sanders develop into one of the league’s elite defenders? Possibly. But is he worth $44 million in guaranteed money? With the amount of baggage he carries, and with the limited offensive game he brings to the table? Probably not. He’s certainly worth watching during the 2014-2015 season, but there is no way the Boston Celtics should make a play for this kid during the current offseason.