7:24pm: Kidd told WTMJ’s Sports Central that he expects Sanders will return soon, possibly Tuesday, Gardner tweets.
6:27pm: Agent Happy Walters told HoopsHype that his client is not looking to retire. “I saw that tweet. It is not accurate at all. Rumor unsubstantiated,” Walters said.
4:15pm: Sanders disputes the notion that he told the Bucks that he no longer wanted to play basketball, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders reports (Twitter links). According to Kyler, Sanders has been out with the flu and dealing with some personal issues, and is planning to rejoin the team sometime this week.
3:13pm: Bucks center Larry Sanders has recently told team officials that he no longer wants to play basketball, Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times reports (Twitter links). Sanders’ potential lack of passion for the game has been building for some time, as some friends of Sanders told Woelfel last summer that they were concerned that Sanders wasn’t committed to basketball and wanted to explore other options. The 26-year-old big man is currently in the first year of a four-year, $44MM extension.
Sanders was previously reported to have left the team due to personal reasons, and was said to be out indefinitely by coach Jason Kidd. At the time Kidd was quoted as saying, “That’s a good question so you don’t have to ask me tomorrow or Sunday or Monday, so there’s no timetable. Being sick, away from the team, guys go on as you see. Charlotte, we played without him. The other night we played without him [in Cleveland]. It’s nothing new to this ball club. Injuries happen. The train keeps moving forward. It’s just personal. There’s nothing I can give you more. That’s the way the question will be answered.”
The Bucks were reportedly interested in dealing Sanders last season, and the talk began mere months after the team signed him to the extension. This was due in part to Sanders missing extended time during the 2013/14 campaign courtesy of a broken hand that was suffered during a brawl at a nightclub. According to Woelfel (Twitter link), Milwaukee had offered Sanders and Brandon Knight to the Pacers this summer for Roy Hibbert. With Sanders’ alleged lack of desire to play any longer, finding a taker for his contract at this point would likely be a near impossibility.
If Sanders’ issue is primarily with playing for the Bucks, rather than wanting to simply walk away from the game permanently, then Milwaukee would potentially be able to threaten him with a suspension on the grounds of intentional refusal to render the services required under his contract. The team could withhold his pay, which would likely bring the NBPA into the fray. But if Sanders is simply determined not to play any longer, then he could attempt to negotiate a buyout in which he would forfeit all, or most of his salary.
Sanders has made 27 appearances for the Bucks this season, averaging 7.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks in 21.7 minutes per game. His career numbers are 6.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG, and 1.8 BPG. His career slash line is .480/.000/.550.