The Cleveland Cavaliers have found their man. The Cavs sign Larry Sanders on Monday (March 13), bringing to an end a quick search to replace Andrew Bogut on the active roster. Bogut broke his leg 58 seconds into his first game with the Cavaliers this season, leaving a hole in the low post on both ends of the court. After looking at players like Jared Sullinger, Luis Scola, Omri Casspi, and Mike Scott in free agency, the Cavs sign Larry Sanders to a deal that will pay him the veteran’s minimum to finish out the 2016-17 NBA season.
Larry Sanders’ stats come from the 2014-15 NBA season and before that, as he hasn’t been on a team in the past two years. Though he is still young regarding NBA veterans, a mixture of injuries and lack of interest in the game has kept Sanders from being on an NBA roster. Before that time, he had been a member of the Milwaukee Bucks. In five NBA seasons, Sanders averaged 19.8 minutes, 6.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game for the Bucks. The blocks might be the most important component of his game and something Cleveland desperately needs.
A report by NBA analyst Shams Charania confirms that this is a two-year deal for the big man. It is expected that he will have a second season tacked on as a team option, giving the Cavs first crack at bringing him back for another year if this experiment yields positive results.
Quite a few Cleveland Cavaliers fans are going to be rushing to Larry Sanders’ Basketball Reference page to get to know the new player, as he wasn’t a household name during his time with the Milwaukee Bucks. This signing by the Cavs will also mean the end of Andrew Bogut’s time with the franchise. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, to clear a 15th roster spot so that Sanders can play for the team, it will require releasing Bogut first. This will technically make Bogut a free agent again, but the Cavs still have to pay his full salary.
The Cleveland Cavaliers lost to the Houston Rockets on Sunday (March 12), dropping to 43-22 on the season. That leaves the Cavs just two games ahead of the Washington Wizards in the updated NBA standings. After racing out to a big lead for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, the Cavaliers are now at risk of getting caught by the Wizards. For Washington, the team won its fifth-consecutive game over the weekend by beating the Portland Trail Blazers, improving themselves to 41-24 on the season with roughly a month to go until the 2017 NBA Playoffs.
The most notable of Larry Sanders’ stats comes on defense, with his numbers during the 2012-13 NBA season standing out from the rest. During that year, Sanders played in 71 games for the Milwaukee Bucks (55 starts), averaging 2.8 blocks per game. It was an impressive stat line that also included 9.8 points and 9.5 rebounds per game, showcasing how well he could be used on the defensive end of the court. That is exactly what the Cavs could use from him as the team has had problems keeping opponents from getting easy dunks and layups in transition.
As the Cavs sign Larry Sanders, the franchise is also admitting that it is worried about the construction of the current roster. Though the most recent NBA championship trophy resides in Cleveland, there has been a lot of chatter on social media and among analysts about whether the team can repeat this spring. Standing in their way are a group of teams that once again includes the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, and Toronto Raptors. Each of those teams is also going through some problems this season, though.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the Spurs are dealing with some particularly bad news. It was announced over the weekend that All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge is dealing with a heart arrhythmia that will rule him out indefinitely. The Spurs will basically be without one of their best players as he seeks medical treatment to help with his heart condition. It is unclear whether he can return this season, in time for the playoffs, or even in time to begin the 2017-18 NBA season. Aldridge’s doctors will run more tests and try to determine whether he just needs a lot of rest or a procedure to help save his life.
Fantasy basketball owners will certainly be interested in finding out what Larry Sanders’ stats are going to look like for the rest of the 2016-17 NBA season. If the numbers shown on Sanders’ Basketball Reference page are any indication, then he could easily average around seven points, seven rebounds, and two blocks per game if he can maintain between 20-28 minutes a night. Without playing during the past two years, though, it is unclear what his stamina level will be when he actually returns for his first game with the Cavs.
The Cleveland Cavaliers’ schedule gives the team another night off to prepare for a game against the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday (March 14). The Pistons are at 33-33 on the season, currently holding the seventh seed in the East. It means that the team wants to win this game to potentially catch the Indiana Pacers for the sixth seed and get an easier opponent in the postseason. If the NBA Playoffs began today (March 13), the first-round matchup for the Pistons would come against the Washington Wizards. That would also put the Cavs up against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Larry Sanders’ contract isn’t going to be a huge one, as he will make less than $250,000 for the remainder of the current NBA season. His next contract could be a larger one, though, depending on how well he plays for the Cavaliers in the final 17 regular season games. Sanders is also eligible to play in the postseason, giving him a chance to showcase his talents on a larger stage and possibly earn a lot of extra money along the way. Teams looking to add size in the coming NBA offseason will certainly be paying attention to his stat line with the Cavs.
So exactly what type of an impact will the Larry Sanders signing with the Cavs have on this NBA season? He won’t be expected to put up big numbers on offense, but if Sanders can become a shot blocking force at center, the Cavs will have a rim protector that makes it easier on defense for LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. It could also help bridge the gap until Kevin Love can return to the Cavs from another injury. After seven straight games of allowing at least 103 points on defense, the Cavs can use any help they can get.
[Featured Image by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images]