The Cleveland Cavaliers quickly replaced injured center Andrew Bogut as they prepare to sign Larry Sanders for the stretch run with the potential for more. The Cavs cannot offer Sanders anything above the NBA minimum salary, which for a five-year veteran equates $208,000, a pro-rated amount from $1.1 million. According to multiple reports, the deal will also include a team option for the 2017-18 season in the event the veteran center surprises everyone and presents himself as a piece for the future.
Sanders, 28, hasn’t played since the 2014-15 season in which he posted averages of 7.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 21.7 minutes. According to TNT’s David Aldridge, it’s expected that the bespectacled shot blocker gets his sea legs back in the NBA Developmental League for the remainder of the regular season before he’s unveiled for the team’s playoff run. While some may question this decision in the wake of a loss wherein the team was outrebounded 52-38, the Cavs seem confident in their ability to stem the tide until power forward Kevin Love returns later this month following a procedure on his knee in mid-February.
Walking away from the game and $27 million in guaranteed money mid-way through the 2014-15 season, Sanders’ workout in Cleveland last month included what has been described as a lengthy interview with head coach Tyronn Lue. According to Jason Lloyd, then of the Akron Beacon Journal, Sanders was arrested last year on a felony weapons charge in Los Angeles. Arrested on June 12 and booked into the Van Nuys jail, his bail was set at $50,000.
Since LeBron James returned to Cleveland, the Cavaliers have been a place where players have been able to not only rehabilitate their image, but have a lot of success while doing so. J.R. Smith was a throw-in in the Iman Shumpert-Dion Waiters trade. Derrick Williams went from draft bust to a player who has been able to contribute on both ends of the floor for a contender. According to James, Sanders could very well be the next name on that list.
“It looks like he wants another opportunity, and hopefully, if we’re the team, hopefully we give him an opportunity,” James said before Saturday’s shootaround. “Why not? Everyone deserves a second chance, and it looks like he wants to get back to playing the game he loves, and hopefully this is his destination. You don’t know how much you can get out of a guy that’s been out so long, but I’d love to see it. Why not? I don’t ever shy away from a guy getting a second chance, and if this is [Sanders’] destination, I’d be happy to be part of his process.”