Larry Sanders

How Larry Sanders’ marijuana suspension cured his injury


In mid-March, the Bucks said Larry Sanders would miss the rest of the season due to a broke eye socket.

Last week, the NBA suspended Sanders five games for testing positive for marijuana.

After the drug test – nay, because of the drug test – the Bucks cleared Sanders to play.

Talk about the power of medicinal marijuana.

When Sanders was suspended, it was presumed he’d serve the penalty during the first five games of next season. The clock doesn’t start until a player is active.

But the Bucks want Sanders to serve the suspension this season, while they’re headed toward the No. 1 seed in the lottery. Next season, when there’s at least a chance they can make the playoffs, they’d rather have Sanders available.

Of course, this confirms the Bucks aren’t as interested in winning this season. (Call that tanking if you wish. I would.) Otherwise, they’d have Sanders available as soon as he were healthy enough to play. Even in a miserable season, he tops the end-of-bench alternative.

So, how did Milwaukee get away with this switcheroo?

Tom Ziller of SB Nation:

It turns out there’s a process by which players are physically cleared to play by the team and an independent league-appointed doctor before suspensions can be served. What happened in this case, according to a league official: the Bucks’ team doctor cleared Sanders, and sent his evaluation to the NBA. League officials reviewed and accepted the team doctor’s conclusion. Then an independent physician contracted by the league examined Sanders and confirmed the team doctor’s conclusion that Sanders is physically able to play.

After all of that, the NBA agreed that Sanders could be activated and begin serving his suspension.

Sanders began serving his suspension against the Pacers last night, and with four more Milwaukee games remaining this season, he’ll be in the clear next season.

It’s really a win for all parties.

The Bucks get a contributor when they want him to help them win, not while they’re competing for better lottery odds.

By serving his suspension this season – while he’s still on his rookie contract and before his four-year, $44 million extension kicks in – Sanders will forfeit just $138,789 in salary. Next season, it would have been $500,000. That’s a cool $361,211 staying in Sanders’ pocket.

And the league avoids harshly enforcing what increasingly seems like an antiquated penalty for using a substance now legalized in two states (and probably more soon). Sanders wasn’t playing again this season, so he wasn’t risking harming his team, either – except as it applies to this rule.

Which, it turns out, isn’t as strict as it appeared.

Greg Smith fails physical, will not join Pelicans

Greg Smith
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With both starter Omer Asik and backup Alexis Ajinca out injured for the rest of the preseason (and maybe a little longer), the Pelicans are looking for a center to put next to Anthony Davis for a stretch. That could include a handful of regular season games.

Greg Smith was going to be that man, but the 24-year-old failed his physical, reports the Times-Picayune.

The New Orleans Pelicans were set to sign power forward Greg Smith, but sources said Friday night that he failed his physical examination and will not be joining the team.

And so the search goes on.

The problem is, there are not quality big men still out there on the market, there is a limited supply and just about anyone worth having is spoken for. A few with non-guaranteed contracts may be waived as we get closer to the end of training camps, but that is likely a couple of weeks away.

With both Asik and Ajinca expected back in a few weeks, it’s not worth making a trade or some big move to bring in a center, the Pelicans are just going to have to live with what is out there.

Kevin Durant with huge dunk on visiting Fenerbahce Ulker

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Welcome to America, Fenerbahce Ulker.

The Turkish powerhouse was in America playing some exhibition games this preseason, and they got a first-hand reminder that Kevin Durant is back. KD had 13 points in the Thunder’s easy 111-81 win.

Not to be outdone, Russell Westbrook got in on the act.