Last season, Larry Sanders looked like one of the most promising young players in the league. He made a huge leap defensively and looked to be making the most of his unbelievable athleticism. The Bucks rewarded him with a four-year, $44 million extension and everything looked set for him to help guide the Bucks forward.
Instead, this year has been a disaster. He was involved in a bar fight that resulted in his suspension and suffering a broken hand. Gary Neal was involved in a locker room spat with him in which he told Sanders to try earning his money. This goes all the way back to last year, when Ken Berger reported that Monta Ellis and Sanders nearly came to blows during a playoff game.
It was Sanders' third ejection this season. Sanders is averaging just six points and six rebounds this season, shooting just 43 percent and 2.5 blocks per game, down over a block per game from last season. His on-court points-allowed-per-possessions is up significantly, at 103 per game vs. 99 last year when he was a league leader last season, per Basketball-Reference.com.
Was the Sanders extension a mistake? Is Sanders just a young player, learning his way? Or is he a genuine problem player who was given financial security, opening a Pandora's box of trouble? It's a bad situation in Milwaukee right now for him, with a coach that hasn't connected with him in Larry Drew and a lost season that's going to set him up for bad situations. You just hope this isn't a sign of the direction his career is headed.
The off-court issues don't necessarily have to be connected to the on-court struggles, but both indicate an immaturity and a lack of awareness for how to conduct yourself professionally. Getting tossed from time to time is fine, that's the mark of a competitor. Getting kicked out repeatedly is a sign of immaturity that hurts your team. Heres' hoping Sanders can get his season and career back on track.