The Dallas Mavericks were knocked out of the NBA Playoffs by the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday, but they were still very pleased with the success that they had. Owner Mark Cuban will be looking to make some offseason moves to add more pieces to the mix, and one of those targets could be Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders.
Sanders struggled through an injury-plagued season, and also had some character issues. Milwaukee would likely be interested in listening to some offers, and could pull the trigger on a deal.
According to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, the Mavericks would be very interested in acquiring a center with the skill-set that Sanders possesses. He would add great defense and rebounding to go along with an improving offensive game. It’s hard to judge Sanders off of his play with the Bucks, especially because of how poorly the team played last season.
Sanders played in just 23 games this past season, starting in 20 of those appearances. He averaged 7.7 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game in 25.4 minutes. Those numbers certainly aren’t what the Bucks were expecting after giving him a large extension in the offseason, but all of the issues that piled on top of each other were too much to overcome for him.
So the question then becomes, why would the Mavericks look to acquire such an inconsistent, undependable player? The easy answer to that question is that Sanders has the potential to become a star if he gets his head on straight and works on his game. In 2012 with the Bucks, he averaged 9.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per game, and showed excellent improvement throughout the course of the season. His attitude was much better in 2012, and his teammates were very happy to get him involved in the game.
Dallas will have some decisions to make on whether or not his attitude would be good for the team, but they were able to make things with Monta Ellis work very well. Ellis and Sanders were teammates in Milwaukee during the 2012 season, and most reports are that the two were good friends and they worked well together on the court. There is no denying the risk in making a trade for Sanders, especially with the numbers of his current contract.
What would it take to acquire Sanders from the Bucks? There is no question that Sanders’ trade value went down due to his lack of production and attitude issues off the court, so that could help the Mavericks figure out a deal with Milwaukee. Any trade would likely have to include a first round pick, and potentially a young piece like Jae Crowder. Obviously that is just speculation, but a trade surrounding those two pieces could probably get done.
Overall, the Mavericks are looking to make a splash in either free agency or a trade this offseason. They believe that they are a piece or two away from contending for a championship, and Dirk Nowitzki isn’t getting any younger. Cuban knows that his team is aging fast, and he needs to start building for the future while also working to compete in the presence. At 25 years of age, Sanders would be able to fit both of those categories.