The Milwaukee Bucks are rebuilding in the wake of the failed Brandon Jennings/Monta Ellis experiment.
But they have one piece that can serve as a cornerstone in whatever is being built — Larry Sanders. The fourth-year player out of Virginia Commonwealth had a breakout season last year and is one of the better defensive anchor big men in the league. The Bucks had the 12th best defense in the NBA (in points per possession) last season and that was with heavy minutes for Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings (not exactly defensive stoppers). Sanders was a big part of why.
Which is why the Bucks have locked Sanders up with a four-year, $44 million extension of his rookie deal, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. Incentives could push that has high as $48 million. That’s a fair number for both sides.
This isn’t a surprise, we told you last week the sides were close.
Sanders is becoming the face of the franchise for the Bucks, and last season in addition to his defense (2.8 blocks a game) he averaged 9.8 points a game (shooting better than 50 percent) and 9.5 rebounds a game. He’s a very good center.
The Bucks will be trying out a Brandon Knight/O.J. Mayo backcourt this season, then they will try their luck in the lottery. Rebuilds are by design not usually fun to watch.
But it’s all about acquiring assets — the Bucks have a good one and they just locked it up. Smart move.