Although it’s been more than three years since Larry Sanders last saw action in the NBA, the former Milwaukee Bucks defensive specialist recently expressed hopes of making a comeback while he’s still young enough to be a productive player.
Speaking to TMZ Sports in an interview published on Sunday, Sanders said that at 31 years old and with “things shifting” around the NBA, he still feels like he’s in the prime of his career and believes he can “definitely contribute” if given a chance by any of the league’s 30 teams.
“I would just love to contribute to a team and help them win and give my knowledge, give my defensive presence and just being able to play basketball. That’s ideal for me. That sounds like heaven.”
As shown on his Basketball-Reference player page, Sanders was a former first-round draft pick who played five seasons for the Milwaukee Bucks, from 2010 to 2015. He had his best season in 2012-13 when he averaged 9.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks and shot 50.6 percent from the field as the Bucks’ starting center. However, as TMZ Sports recalled, the center/forward dealt with multiple failed drug tests and mental health issues after his time in Milwaukee, as he sat out the entire 2015-16 season and most of 2016-17.
Sanders’ last NBA stint took place toward the end of the 2016-17 campaign when he signed with the then-defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers. However, he ended up playing only a total of 13 minutes in five games, tallying a combined four points, four rebounds, and one blocked shot in those contests.
According to Bleacher Report, Sanders only made his return to competitive basketball last year, when he suited up in the BIG3. The three-on-three league has been a popular destination for former NBA players, including the likes of 2019 BIG3 MVP Joe Johnson, who reportedly came close to signing with the Detroit Pistons ahead of the 2019-20 regular season.
Commenting on Sanders’ chances of returning to the NBA after such a long absence, Bleacher Report wrote that his lack of outside shooting — an in-demand skill for modern-day big men — could make it hard for him to make a comeback. As such, the outlet suggested that his best bet would be to suit up first in the G League or play in the European leagues, adding that at this point, he needs to “prove himself worthy of a shot, both on and off the floor” before NBA teams take a chance and sign him to a contract.