Milwaukee assistant GM says Larry Sanders “absolutely” in team plans

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Two years ago, Larry Sanders looked like a potential future core piece in Milwaukee, a defensive and rebounding force in the paint (that got him a four-year, $44 million extension).

Last season was about as bad as it could get for Sanders: When he played he took a step back on the court, but he played in only 23 games missing most of that time after hand surgery needed because he shredded a ligament during a bar fight. He fought with teammates. He got cited by police for leaving his dogs out in the cold. He was suspended five games by the NBA for violating the league’s drug policy on marijuana use (which you have to test positive for three different times to earn a suspension). Oh, and there were the games missed for a broken eye socket (but that happened during a game).

It has a lot of people wondering if the Bucks planned to keep Sanders around or dump him the first chance they got. There have been enough trade rumors out there to make it clear the Bucks are at least listened to offers.

However, Bucks assistant general manager David Morway told HoopsHype’s David Alarcon nope, they still see Sanders as part of the future in Milwaukee.

“Absolutely. Yeah, yeah. Larry is in our future plans. We are hopeful that this year Larry gets back to being the basketball player that he was two years ago. He is a defensive presence and a game changer on the court. So when you have his length along with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, John Henson and then Zaza Pachulia, Damien Inglis, who is very long, and if you play Khris Middleton at the two… We are a fairly long team. We’ve got good experience with OJ Mayo, Jerryd Bayless… And we like Kendall Marshall. So we are excited for next year.”

What else is he going to say? Even if the Bucks plan to dump Sanders for the first warm body offered, you don’t say that lest you get lowballed. You say you love your young players right up to the moment you trade them away.

That said, moving a guy who had all those issues and whose $44 million deal kicks in this year will not be easy. They are not likely to get great value back.

The Bucks have the pieces where you can start to see a young core coming together — Henson, Parker and Antetokounmpo for sure up front. The Sanders of two years ago would fit in great with that group. It would be the smart play from the Bucks to see if Sanders can fit in with them on the court, find his old groove, and put the bong down for a season.

Of course, if he does all that the trade offers that come in will be legitimate, and the Bucks will have a different question to answer.

Watch Lance Stephenson get into flopping battle in China

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You can take the flopper out of the NBA but you can’t take the flopping out of his game.

Unable to land an NBA contract this season, Lance Stephenson signed with the Liaoning Flying Leopards of the Chinese Basketball Association. He has taken his flopping skills to China.

However, he may have met his match with one Chinese player, who tried to sell a non-contact, off-the-ball, sniper-in-the-grassy-knoll level flop that even legendary flopper Vlade Divac would have called extreme. The Chinese referees saw through that and awarded a technical to Stephenson’s team.

Then Stephenson drew another foul later in the game with a flop as he tried to grab the ball away from a player after the play. That drew a foul on the opposing player, who complained and then got his own technical.

It’s all just Lance being Lance.

Kyrie Irving out Saturday vs. Bulls due to shoulder injury

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Already without Caris LeVert for a couple of weeks due to thumb surgery, the Nets just lost their primary playmaker for at least one game.

Kyrie Irving is out Saturday night for Brooklyn’s game in Chicago.

Irving has been battling this pain for some time. This is the kind of injury often seen in swimmers where, due to usage, the bones in the shoulder impinge on the tendons or bursa (the sac of fluid in the joint that makes movement smooth and painless).

The treatment for this is generally rest and time off, it would not be surprising if Irving missed more time to get his shoulder healthy and right (a specialist told the New York Post exactly this). Call it load management or whatever you want, better to get Irving healthy now rather than have this be a chronic thing all season long.

Irving is leading the Nets averaging 28.5 points and 7.2 assists a game, hitting 34.1 percent of his threes, and he’s the guy with the ball in his hands being asked to make plays. The Nets offense is 10.4 points per 100 possessions better when Irving is on the court this season.

Spencer Dinwiddie, who has struggled some with his shooting and efficiency to start the season, now will be asked to step up and carry the load. With the Nets off to a 4-7 start, they don’t want to give up a lot more ground in the East playoff chase (the Nets are currently in a four-way tie for the nine-seed, just half a game out of the playoffs).

Kings’ Dwayne Dedmon snags french fry from Lakers’ fan during game (VIDEO)

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The french fries at Staples Center are pretty good. Better than the popcorn.

Kings’ center Dwayne Dedmon was on the bench at one point Saturday night during the Kings’ loss to the Lakers, looked at the dude sitting next to him in fan seats (and look at that guy, he’s a “dude”), and asks if he can have a french fry.

No ketchup or sauce, but the fries seem to get Dedmon’s seal of approval.

A player like Dedmon burns a lot of calories during a game, you got to keep that energy level up with a few carbs. Plus, french fries are awesome. Can’t blame the guy.

Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo on Malcolm Brogdon: ‘Definitely wish he was still here’

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Malcolm Brogdon is thriving with the Pacers.

The Bucks are doing just fine without him.

But with Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s super-max decision rapidly approaching, Milwaukee’s controversial decision to sign-and-trade Brogdon during restricted free agency last summer looms over the entire NBA.

The Bucks visit Indiana tomorrow. So, it’s an opportunity to take Antetokounmpo’s temperature on the move.

Jack Maloney of CBS Sports:

“Wish he was still here” because that’s a nice thing to say about a friend? Or “wish he was still here” because Antetokounmpo wanted the Bucks to handle last offseason differently?

The difference means everything to Milwaukee.

Antetokounmpo has consistently said he wants to stay with the Bucks as long as they prioritize winning. Though there were also basketball reasons to move Brogdon, losing him also kept Milwaukee out of the luxury tax. That financial motivation is impossible to overlook.

If the Bucks wanted to keep Brogdon, they could have. They wouldn’t have a first-rounder and two second-rounders incoming from Indiana. They might not have lured Wesley Matthews and Kyle Korver in free agency. They’d likely be in the luxury tax. But they would have had Brogdon.

As Antetokounmpo pointed out, Brogdon was complicit in his own exit. Brogdon wanted to play point guard, wanted to have a bigger role. That wasn’t happening in Milwaukee with Eric Bledsoe at point guard and Antetokounmpo as focal point. So, one some level, Antetokounmpo might appreciate the Bucks helping Brogdon get to a more desirable situation rather than leveraging restricted rights over him.

But, at the end of the playoffs, how will Antetokounmpo feel about Brogdon not being at his side for the postseason run? That’s the big question that will determine everything. For now, we’re getting only clues.