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Bucks, Larry Sanders talking buyout

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Amar’e Stoudemire is already on the market after getting bought out by the New York Knicks, and Milwaukee Bucks big man Larry Sanders might be next in line. Sanders and the Bucks have begun buyout discussions, and there’s little chance the big man plays for Milwaukee again, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein.

Sanders recently served a 10-game suspension for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy, but he didn’t return to the team after serving the suspension, his second in less than a year. There have been rumors that Sanders was unsure about his desire to continue to play basketball, although he has denied them.

Even with Sanders missing so much time and Jabari Parker out for the year with an ACL injury, the Bucks have been one of the league’s best surprises this season under Jason Kidd. Milwaukee is 30-23 on the year after finishing with the worst record in the NBA last season, putting the Bucks firmly in the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference.

Milwaukee has done it with defense, ranking second in the league in defensive efficiency at the All-Star break, according to Last season, the Bucks had the second-worst defense in the league, which makes this turnaround even more remarkable.

While Milwaukee has been just fine with Sanders on the pine, he still has value as a rim protector if he gets his head on straight. He had blossomed into one of the best rim protectors in the league a few years ago, which earned him a four-year, $44 million contract from the Bucks, a deal that looks awful now.

But that contract won’t be a problem once Sanders is bought out. Having Sanders on a minimum (or at least much smaller) contract instead of a huge deal mitigates some of the risk, and there are some contenders that could use him.

The Dallas Mavericks are on the hunt for a big man, but the Mavericks are viewed as the front-runner to sign Stoudemire and also have Jermaine O’Neal on their radar. If one or both of those acquisitions come to fruition, don’t expect Dallas to pursue Sanders.

The Los Angeles Clippers are also in the market for a big, especially with Blake Griffin sidelined. With Spencer Hawes starting in place of Griffin, the primary bigs off the Clippers’ bench are Glen Davis, Hedo Turkoglu and Ekpe Udoh, which is an awful group. Los Angeles has also had issues on the defensive end, which Sanders could help fix.

There are likely other teams that would be willing to take a chance on Sanders on the cheap, even with the baggage. Having quality frontcourt depth is important, and if you can land a quality rim protector for very little money, the risk could very well be worth the reward.


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