(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Sanders at the Team USA mini-camp in Vegas with Greg Monroe. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Larry Sanders has kind of picked up the previously tossed aside torch of “face of the Milwaukee Bucks franchise” off the ground and sprinted back and forth between Milwaukee and Las Vegas with it this summer. The Bucks appreciate that. They appreciate the suddenly productive minutes he provided the team with last season too.

Those two factors are surely largely why the Bucks and Sanders appear to be nearing a contract extension well in advance of the October 31st extension deadline for members of the 2010 draft class. According to Marc Stein:

The Milwaukee Bucks are in advanced discussions on a contract extension with forward Larry Sanders, according to sources close to the process.

Oct. 31 is the deadline for extensions for members of Sanders’ 2010 draft class, but sources told ESPN.com this week that negotiations on a new deal for one of Milwaukee’s new cornerstones have already reached the final stages.

Stein goes on to indicate “Sanders is expected to receive an extension with an annual salary in excess of $10 million.” That’s a pretty major development for a player many expected off the Bucks roster in a year or two last October, but Sanders had a pretty big season. The 6-foot-11 center/forward finished second in blocks per game last season, first in block percentage, seventh in defensive player of the year voting last year and was the darling of the Sloan Sports Analytical Conference.

In just 27.3 minutes per game, Sanders averaged 9.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game. Despite an offensive repertoire that consists of pretty much one move, the dunk, Sanders transformed into an impact player last season. That’s how good he was on defense.

John Hammond passionately declared that the Bucks are going young, not tanking, during the introductory press conference for newly acquired Bucks Brandon Knight and Khris Middleton Tuesday morning and Sanders seems to be at the forefront of the youth movement.