Larry Sanders is out for personal reasons

Larry Sanders will not play against the Indiana Pacers tonight, and in his pregame media session, Jason Kidd told the assembled media that the absence was due to “personal reasons” (video below).

Sanders has missed the past four games — Atlanta (twice), Charlotte, and Cleveland — and tonight will be his fifth game missed.

This absence could be as simple as an illness in his family, or a medical condition for Sanders himself of a personal and private nature. But boy, is it ever hard to believe that stuff given the track record of how these things have shaken out in the past. (And the fact that there are multiple incidents to track makes it even sadder.)

So we’ve been duped again.

In the shootaround before the first Atlanta game, head coach Jason Kidd announced the absences of Sanders and Ersan Ilyasova, who has been absent for the same number of games.”

With Ers, again, I think we have a little concussion,” Kidd said. “So we’re being cautious. We’ll see how he feels in the next couple of days. And when you look at Larry, he’s out. He has the flu so we’ll see how he feels here in the next couple of days.

Later, in his pregame comments, Kidd was asked about shaking up his lineup. After citing Zaza Pachulia and Kendall Marshall as new starters, Kidd made a point of insisting that the change was mandated by injuries to his players.

It’s not a shake up. It’s just more or less we have some injuries.

More or less? How about less.

Given the nature of previous incidents, and given how the nature of those incidents continued to morph for the worse over time as they were revealed, count me among the skeptical. If it was something that wasn’t unpleasant, I would venture to guess it would have simply been referred to as “personal reasons” going back to that first absence in Atlanta.

A timeline of incidents involving Larry Sanders:

April 19, 2012: Sanders tries to fight all the Indiana Pacers. Not one teammate rushes to his defense. He later gets suspended for two games.

2011-12 season: Sanders amasses seven technical fouls and a total of two ejections.

Early 2012-13 season: Sanders reportedly punched teammate Mike Dunleavy.

Oct. 22, 2012: Sanders is suspended for a preseason game against the Toronto Raptors for personal conduct detrimental to the team. To this day, the details remain unclear, but Sanders commented in a later story by Lori Nickel (Note: Punching Dunleavy may have been a mutually exclusive event, but more likely, these two are one and the same.):

“It shouldn’t have gotten where it did – but it helps now,” said the 24-year-old Sanders. “I see it a lot, teammates have disagreements. When those things are handled in the beginning of the season? Usually things are good. But when they are handled at the end of the season, things are lingering and fester. This was something that had to be kind of handled.

“I consider myself as a leader in a lot of ways. And at that point I had to kind of establish my respect. It was only so that my word could kind of be heard a little bit more. At that point I was kind of cast down a little bit because I was young, And so that was what that disagreement was about. It made us better teammates. Me and that guy are closer now and I feel like the team is closer now.”

January 2013: Sanders is cited twice for cruelty to animals for leaving his dogs out in the cold.

March 13, 2013: Three thumbs up and a ejection.

March 15, 2013: Sanders gets ejected for the second game in a row and later earns a $50K fine for using a “derogatory and offensive term and publicly criticizing the officials”.

March 22, 2013: Sanders is ejected from a game against Indiana.

April 25, 2013: Larry gets into a locker room dispute with Monta Ellis following a Game 3 loss in the playoff series with the Heat.

2012-13 season: Sanders racks up 14 technical fouls, five ejections and over $100K of fines.

August 20, 2013: The Bucks sign Sanders to a 4-year, $44 million extension that puts him under contract through 2018.

November 2, 2013: Larry breaks his thumb in a nightclub and hurls bottles everywhere. Criminal charges against him are later dropped.

January 5, 2014: Gary Neal suggests that Sanders try earning his money sometime.

April 2014: Sanders earns a five-game suspension for violating the NBA’s substance abuse policy, meaning that he flunked three league-mandated marijuana tests.

2013-14 season: Sanders picks up six more technical fouls and an ejection in 23 total games played.

October 2014: Details emerge from a lawsuit brought by Sanders’ former agents. In it, Andy Miller and ASM Sports claim that Walters and Fegan stole Sanders as a client from Miller using “unfair competition”. Those back-dealings reportedly included Fegan and Walters offering to pay a close confidant of Sanders, Seth Willmot, and a former girlfriend/childhood friend, Cree Nix, a portion of the commission for their work managing Sanders.

From the decision:

“On July 16, 2013, Miller and Sanders met in Las Vegas. During the dinner, Sanders allegedly exhibited a “belligerent” attitude and demanded that Willmot receive 1% of Sanders’ total contract .”

And from an affadavit from an employee of Miller’s group:

“On June 21, 2013, Sanders came to New York for a meeting with Miller and Grossman. Sanders brought Cree Nix, an ex-girlfriend, with him to that meeting. Upon information and belief, Nix was approached by Walters and Fegan and offered a job and 1% of the commission to re-enter Sanders’ life and help lure him away from Miller. Again, to avoid any lack of clarity, Plaintiffs allege upon information and belief that Defendants paid Nix to have sexual relations with Sanders in order to gain influence with him and help Defendants lure him away from Miller.”

2014-15 season: Sanders starts off the season cleanly, but later amasses 4 technical fouls and a flagrant foul.

Dec. 18, 2014: Sanders is suspended for pushing Nic Batum on a dunk attempt.

January 2015: Jason Kidd says that Larry Sanders is not with the team for personal reasons. His absence begins the game following a 50-minute players-only meeting after a home loss against Charlotte.


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  1. Yikes! That’s quite an NBA-rap sheet, even not including this recent suspicious but still unclear absence.

    Larry seems in dire need of help, not enabling; but I wonder if he is not open to help, because he’s being enabled.

    At the least, it seems time to demote Larry out of the starting lineup. Whatever help Larry might need, I hope the Bucks offer it to him. If he doesn’t accept the help, or make immediate and significant changes to his circumstances and conduct, then the Bucks need to look at more drastic measures, including suspending or waiving Larry — or voiding his contract, if there is a provision to do so for just cause.

    God bless you, Larry. You need to step up big time right now and take control of your life, even if the first step means admitting that you’re out of control, and getting some real help.

  2. I kinda called it. Maybe center is a bigger need than PG.

    As a previous Sanders apologist, I am at the point where I feel we should consider out options going forward. He’s the oldest of our young players and is a consistent threat to the team’s culture..and is not performing up to his contract. It’s too bad his trade value will ultimately be affected by these actions unless he turns it around quickly.

    • Now may not be the time to unload but for the health of the team, Adios . We should make a attempt to move him. My preference is trade with Houston for Motiejuntas. We would have to absorb another salary to make it work but for the health of the team Goodbye

  3. I suspect that he is “out” by the wishes of management at this point – basically telling him to stay at home or allowing him to stay home, for whatever reason. People get sick from the flu and may miss a game or two, but certainly not five. Of course, given his past, one automatically jumps to negative conclusions, such as differences with the coach, causing problems in the locker room, abusive of an illegal substance, or domestic issues. The bottom line……people are upset over the 44,000,000 million dollar contract that this guy was signed to over a four year period. For what? Playing around 20 minutes a game, scoring seven points and getting six rebounds? Most fans think that the amount of money this guy makes is beyond absurd, and it is a bad reflection on the credibility of Bucks Management. Sadly, at this stage, what team would want to take on such a liability at that salary? So I seriously doubt trading him is an option, and I am uncertain whether amnesty still applies for next year. He is a chemistry killing, overpaid, troubled and egocentric team mate with little to offer the Milwaukee Bucks. A poster child for “throwing money” at players who provide essentially nothing in return. The sooner the new owners take care of this problem, the better for all fans throughout the Bucks Nation and for the City of Milwaukee.

    • The amnesty provision only applied to players signed prior to the lockout, and teams could only use it once (we used it on Drew Gooden).

      This whole situation with Sanders is just unfortunate. He’s shown such talent, particularly on the defensive end, and ultimately he may never get a chance to prove to everyone just how good he can be due to his attitude and lack of professionalism both on and off the court.

  4. This is not the first mystery illness this season. Wasn’t Sanders out during the preseason for an undisclosed illness?

  5. The truth is, sad as it probably well is, is that Sanders is struggling with a particular mental illness. This is not to stigmatize him. But all the signs are there. An almost incredible trail of erratic and confounding behaviors. Whether on the court (ejections, baiting referees, fights with opponents, fights with teammates, technicals etc ..) to personal issues (animal cruelty, bar fights ( at first lying about it) , drug use and abuse, fines and so on. Then deciding on his own to become a Marijuana Advocate while at the same time disregarding the current NBA players negotiated policy regarding Marijuana use. Then being fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for his self justified behavior.

    I’m personally OK with all of this. As long as Larry Sanders is not a member of the Milwaukee Bucks. Much less an 11 million dollar annual investment that has turned completely sour. Kidd, I think understands, that the Bucks are going to have to bite the bullet and release Larry Sanders because no one will touch him right now. Over time, Larry Sanders may return in some sort of productive form in the NBA. but it’s becoming quite clear it won’t be in Milwaukee.

    Thanks for the memories.

  6. He must be going through some type of counseling. Let’s hope it’s anger management and not drug related.

  7. Word on the street is Sanders told officials he doesn’t want to play basketball anymore… Good riddance. Give us back the money, and get out of town. What a clown.

  8. Management giving Larry a 4 year $44M contract in hopes that would fix his problems is about as smart as getting pregnant to fix a bad marriage. Sorry, but all the signs of trouble were there.