Larry Sanders will be out for the rest of the season as he continues to recover from the broken right orbital bone he suffered during a game on February 8th, the center tells Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link). Sanders signed a four-year, $44MM extension last fall that kicks in for 2014/15, but he played only 23 games this season because of the orbital bone injury as well as a broken hand that he suffered during a fight at a nightclub. That off-court misstep cost Sanders nearly two months, while his latest injury will keep him away for the final nine and a half weeks of the season.
Sanders finished third last year in Most Improved Player of the Year award voting and seventh in balloting for Defensive Player of the Year, but his inability to stay on the court has been microcosmic of the 2013/14 season for the Bucks, whose 13-55 record is still the worst in the NBA by two and a half games, in spite of Philadelphia’s ongoing 21-game losing streak. Sanders appeared to regress when he did play for Milwaukee this season, with his numbers down almost across the board from 2012/13.
The Bucks were reportedly aggressive in their attempts to trade Sanders in December, shortly before he returned from his broken hand. Milwaukee was apparently seeking draft picks in return, but the team had begun turning away suitors for the 25-year-old before he suffered his orbital bone injury. The Poison Pill Provision might have had much to do with the Bucks’ inability to pull off a deal, but it would no longer be a factor if Milwaukee GM John Hammond and company wanted to revisit the idea of trading him in the summer. Still, given the cost and length of Sanders’ contract, I’d be surprised if the Bucks find any takers willing to give them enough of a return, and today’s news means that potential trade partners won’t get another chance this season to see if Sanders can bounce back.