Milwaukee Bucks Wise to Turn Away Offers for Larry Sanders

Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterFebruary 7, 2014

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Given the injuries, off-court issues and on-court struggles, it's only natural to lose patience with Milwaukee Bucks big man Larry Sanders

But selling low solves nothing. 

Sanders' value is not where it once was. ESPN's Marc Stein recently touched on the difficulty Milwaukee could have finding equal value on the trade market. Sanders has regressed in every statistical category across the board, and after that bar fight late in 2013 that caused him to require thumb surgery, along with all the technical fouls he picked up last year, it would be hard to imagine teams offering up a difference-making asset for an underperforming player with a questionable behavioral history. 

Because when Sanders is locked in and engaged, that's exactly what he is—a difference-maker. Sanders has the potential to be one of the NBA's premier interior defenders, given his ability to single-handedly shrink the size of the rim he's protecting. 

Milwaukee signed him to that $44 million extension for that exact reason, not to mention that at 25 years old, he still has plenty of room to grow. 

But this isn't just about Sanders individually. Given where they are as a franchise, an active Sanders gives the Bucks something more than just a young, athletic big man. He helps give them an identity. 

Have you seen this team's front line when it's at full strength? Good lord—we're talking about one of the longest frontcourts you'll ever see. 

Frontcourt Length
SizeWingspanStanding Reach
Larry Sanders6'11"7'5.75"9'4"
John Henson6'11"7'5"9'4"
Giannis Antetokounmpo6'9"7'3"N/A

Sanders, John Henson, Giannis Antetokounmpo—between their length, both vertically and horizontally, as well as their athleticism, the Bucks have one of the most disruptive defensive trios in the game. 

And it gives them a core, differentiated strength, something other teams don't have and something opponents must game-plan for whenever they face Milwaukee. 

Trading Sanders diminishes that core strength and ultimately dulls the Bucks' competitive edge. 

With Sanders, Henson and Antetokounmpo, the Bucks have something to build around. And unless you're getting an established star in the return, dealing Sanders just weakens that nucleus. 

There's no doubt that Sanders can play. It's not as if he got worse over the last 12 months—the Bucks just have to find a way to put him in position to thrive by maximizing his talent and skill set.

MILWAUKEE, WI - January 29: Larry Sanders #8 of the Milwaukee Bucks dunks against the Phoenix Suns on January 29, 2014 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER:  User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and
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He's actually coming off his best game of the year, when he went for 25 points, 15 boards and a block against the Denver Nuggets.

"I was just trying to be active," Sanders said to Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "I'm trying to keep my hands moving, trying to anticipate a little bit more. I'm getting a better feel out there, just feeling more comfortable."

Sanders missed 25 games earlier this year, and sometimes it just takes guys a little longer to relocate their zones. 

The Bucks shouldn't be in any rush to make any sudden or earth-shattering moves. Dealing Sanders would suggest panic, something they don't need to do, since they're fighting for the lottery and not the playoffs.

There really isn't any reason for the Bucks to make any trades until the 2014 draft. If they're able to land a future star like Kansas center Joel Embiid, then that could make Sanders a little more expendable and easier to move. If the Bucks end up with a guy like Duke's Jabari Parker, Sanders' length and athleticism could actually be the perfect complement.

Either way, Milwaukee landed a stud at No. 15 in the 2010 draft, and one they should continue to mold into the defensive star he's shown flashes of becoming. 

Of course, it doesn't hurt to listen to offers, but unless the Bucks hear one that's just too good to pass up, trading Sanders isn't going to benefit the franchise's rebuilding efforts.