9:57am: A buyout deal is “all but done” and is soon to become official, Stein reports (Twitter links). Sanders will hit waivers by March 1st, Stein says, so he’d be eligible to play for another team in the postseason, but Stein adds that there’s been no indication that he’ll be back on the court soon, which jibes with Bucher’s report that he’s likely to miss the rest of the season.
WEDNESDAY, 8:43am: It’s unlikely that Sanders plays again this season as he continues to deal with personal issues, according to Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher.
TUESDAY, 11:12am: The Bucks and the representatives for Sanders are making progress as they move toward a buyout, a source tells Sam Amick of USA Today (Twitter link). An agreement is “expected,” but there’s no deal yet, Amick says.
MONDAY, 8:20am: The Bucks and Larry Sanders have begun discussions about a buyout of his four-year, $44MM deal, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Sanders is not expected to play for Milwaukee again, Stein writes, so it appears the team has every intention of offloading him one way or another. The 26-year-old last week came off a drug-related suspension that lasted 12 games and cost him $1.2MM of his $11MM salary, but he did not appear Wednesday in Milwaukee’s final game before the All-Star break, his first after the league lifted the suspension.
Sanders is in the first year of his deal, which came in the form of a rookie scale extension he signed in August 2013 after a breakout performance in the 2012/13 season. It’s been downhill since for the 15th overall pick from the 2010 draft, as he suffered a broken hand in a nightclub fight early in the 2013/14 season and missed the latter portion of that season with a fractured orbital bone. He also garnered a five-game drug suspension in April.
There were numerous trade rumors surrounding the 6’11” center throughout last season, and there was reportedly serious interest in him at draft time. Later in the summer, assistant GM David Morway insisted that Sanders was in the team’s plans for the future. There hasn’t been much trade chatter since, though that may have as much to do with his lackluster play and limited minutes as any pronouncement from Bucks management. Sanders has seen action in only 21.7 minutes per game across 27 appearances, and he hasn’t played since December 23rd because of the suspension and what the team has called “personal reasons.” Amid his absence, he denied a report that he was contemplating retirement.
Buyouts rarely happen with deals that extend as long as the one Sanders is on. It’s unclear how much Sanders, a client of Relativity Sports agents Dan Fegan and Happy Walters, would be willing to relinquish, but the Bucks could elect to use the stretch provision to help ease the burden of the contract for 2015/16 and beyond.