Now Sanders is gone again after he struggled keeping up with responsibilities on and off the court. He missed the team bus from the hotel to the airport Tuesday in Miami, multiple sources with knowledge of the situation told The Athletic, the final blow to his time here after Sanders had previously struggled with punctuality.
“He didn’t have any kind of a setback relative to any of the demons he had or any of those things,” Cavs general manager David Griffin said. “He’s an NBA player. He’s kind of flaky. So sometimes you’re late. You’re this. You’re that. None of those things were incidents. But I have to take you in totality as a player and if I know you’re not going to play, then what I’m going to get is everything else. And if I didn’t even feel confident that he’d be a benefit to the group in practice, then it was hard for me to tell coaches, ‘This is a guy you’ve got to keep.’ So they had the conversation on the plane, what else can we do? And we talked about it and we landed and we talked to all the rest of our staff and made a decision.”
“I didn’t think it was going to take him so long to be contributing at least at practice,” Griffin said. “He was much further away than we thought. And by his own admission. He would tell you he was. He knew he was. I think that was a big part of it.”
There had been long questions of whether Sanders could handle an NBA lifestyle. If he couldn’t focus for a championship contender, in what environment would he thrive?
It’s been four years since his last quality season, and he’s 28.
This could end Sanders’ NBA career.