It appears Larry Sanders’ return to the NBA took another step closer to becoming a reality. Shams Charania of The Vertical announced that agent Joel Bell was hired by the former Milwaukee center, and is in the process of setting up visits with NBA teams.
Former Milwaukee center Larry Sanders has ramped up NBA comeback efforts. He has hired agent Joel Bell and started visits to teams.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 31, 2017
Sanders, who hasn’t played since the 2014-15 season, was once considered one of the premier rim protectors in the league. After parting ways with the Bucks due to personal and disciplinary reasons, he entertained the idea of returning to the NBA at various points. The hiring of an agent and the scheduling of visits are new additions over his previous efforts, which gives this attempted return a little more traction.
His potential fit with the Trail Blazers is an obvious one, as President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey has prioritized adding a defensive anchor in the last year. Portland brought in Festus Ezeli during the off-season in hopes of filling that void, but Ezeli has been unable to see the court due to lingering knee issues.
The idea of Sanders coming to Portland has been a topic of discussion for almost a year at Blazer’s Edge. Given the spending spree that took place over the summer, the Blazers would likely have to get creative to make space for him, which was recently highlighted by our own Dave Deckard.
The Bucks are still making payments to Sanders through the 2020-21 season, so there is a possibility that he will accept a salary at the NBA minimum. Sanders’ lengthy hiatus and discipline history could reduce his list of suitors, but if his skills are intact, the competition for his services could be fierce.
If his price-tag rises above the minimum salary threshold, the Blazers would be looking at the following situation when it comes to an offer:
Blazers can only offer Sanders room exception ($2.9M). If had applied for DPE for Festus could've offered pro-rated $3.7M for rest of season https://t.co/fCoMvjdbCC— Eric Griffith (@EricG_NBA) January 31, 2017
The Vertical later reported that Sanders has already visited the Celtics, and he plans to meet with three additional teams in the near future. It is unclear as of now if the Blazers are included in that group of three teams set to receive a visit from the veteran center.