10:53pm: The Mavs continue to have interest in Sanders, but no talks are ongoing, and a trip Sanders took to Texas today has nothing to do with the team, Tim Cato of SB Nation’s Mavs Moneyball hears. Tim MacMahon reports much the same, tweeting that nothing’s in the works but that Dallas would pursue him if he decided to play again.
MONDAY, 2:51pm: A Western Conference team has had internal discussions about the idea of signing Larry Sanders, a source tells Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times (Twitter link). It’s unclear which team it is, or whether the former Bucks defensive stalwart even wants to play again. Sanders cast doubt on the idea last February, shortly after his buyout deal with Milwaukee. Woelfel heard a couple of months later that Sanders still had no desire to return to the game, and Sanders spoke around the start of June about his peace with life away from basketball.
Sanders, who turns 27 next month, gave up nearly half of his $44MM deal with Milwaukee when he left the NBA midway through last season. The NBA handed down two drug-related suspensions to the former 15th overall pick within the year leading up to the end of his time with the Bucks. He checked himself into a hospital where he took part in a program for anxiety, depression and mood disorders last spring. Still, Sanders hasn’t ruled out a return, and in January he denied a report from Woelfel that he was thinking about retirement.
The Mavericks and Clippers, as well as the Cavs, reportedly had at least cautious interest in Sanders toward the end of last season. The Mavs have a need for a clear-cut starter at center, though they have 15 fully guaranteed salaries plus a $500K partial guarantee out to JaVale McGee. The Clippers have only 14 fully guaranteed pacts. The Cavs have 13 full guarantees, not counting the still-unsigned Tristan Thompson, though they’re an Eastern Conference team, of course. It’s a stretch to suggest that any of those three still have interest, given the length of time it’s been since they were linked to Sanders.
Milwaukee might have a rooting interest in Sanders’ future, since teams are generally entitled to set off a portion of any money they owe to ex-players who clear waivers if those players sign new deals elsewhere. However, teams often waive set-off rights in buyout deals, as Larry Coon notes in his Salary Cap FAQ.
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