Off-Season Trade Targets: Larry Sanders

#1
His name has come up several times this season as a possible trade target and his off the court problems were so extensive (and his on-court performance non-existent) that most people seem to have forgotten why he was ever considered a desirable target at all. I just wanted to take a moment to remind people why he's not only a desirable target, but probably the one veteran player in the league who is the best fit for our team.

Firstly, what are we looking for? Not to sound like a broken record, but it's been the same things for years... solid PG play, consistent shooters, and defense, defense, defense. How are we going to fill these roles? We have no cap space this off-season and a sizable chunk next off-season (somewhere around $20 million). We have a lottery pick this season which is most likely going to fall in the 7-10 range. Unfortunately this probably puts us on the outside looking in at all the best prospects this season.

Even worse, half the league has been clearing out substantial cap space next season including desirable markets like New York, LA, Boston, Philadelphia and perennial contenders like Dallas and San Antonio. Orlando, Phoenix, and Utah effectively have no money committed to player salaries in 2015 yet. It's going to be awfully hard to convince anyone to sign in Sacramento next year over all of these other teams unless we've got a respectable playoff showing to prove that winning is part of the bargain.

Which brings me back to Larry Sanders. Arguably the biggest need of all for us is interior defense.

This paper from last years MIT Sloan conference (link) concludes that Larry Sanders was statistically the best interior defender in the league last season.

CBS Sports did a feature on him last year as well (link) which goes a long way toward explaining why he was so effective -- he figured out what his meal ticket was and he worked on it relentlessly.

His off-court issues are a concern, but on the court he's exactly what we need. He won't take a lot of shots and he'll challenge everything at the rim. Furthermore, he's already signed to a 4 year 44 million dollar deal so we don't need to compete for his services in free agency. His no-show of a season combined with Milwaukee finishing last combined with John Henson's development combined with the Bucks' unresolved arena issue perhaps creates the perfect storm by which an interior defender of Sander's standing becomes available just a year after he signed a "future face of the franchise" deal.

Assuming Rudy Gay opts in, it seems like we've got a pretty good shot at a trade. If we trade Rudy Gay's $19 million expiring deal we can take back Sanders $11M per year and Mayo's $8M per year. We say goodbye to our capspace next year but the frontcourt is set with Cousins and Sanders and we still have Williams, McLemore, McCallum and whoever we get in the draft plus Mayo either pushes Ben to the bench or becomes the backup SG we need. Not only do the Bucks clear a lot of future salary, their win-now owner gets a very good veteran player in the meantime to go with their top 4 pick and they get a do-over on Mayo who has been a disappointment this year.

If Rudy opts out, we still have expiring contracts to trade. Jason Terry and Travis Outlaw add up to $8.5M though both teams would be under the salary cap at that point anyway. This is actually harder to see though because the Bucks will probably want more than just cap space for Sanders, probably a young asset or a draft pick as well.
 

Capt. Factorial

This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things
Staff member
#3
I strongly doubt we would trade Rudy for Sanders, especially with the off-court and locker room troubles he has had this year. In fact, his stock is probably relatively low considering that big contract and his attitude.

I don't know what the Bucks would ask for to get Sanders, but prior to breaking his orbital bone his numbers for the season were definitely trending in the wrong direction. If we want to see what kind of lowball offer might get it done, sure, that's something to think about, but at this point to trade Rudy or a draft pick seems out of the question, and even a guy like Ben or Ray would give me pause. If the Bucks want to cut bait, I'd give a lowball offer of Landry and Terry and inch it up to something like JT and DWill. At that point we'd be sending about $22M guaranteed for about $44M of Sanders. If the Bucks don't like it, let them look for a better offer, or convince me that Sanders' locker room problems don't exist so I feel like forking over a real asset. But at this point, for that franchise, taking $22M off their hands is probably asset enough.
 
#4
Personally I think the most obvious offer the Kings could make for Sanders is expiring contracts (some combination of Outlaw, Terry, Evans, Williams or Acy assuming they pick up his option this year) along with their first round pick. Due to the Hickson deal with Chicago (I think) currently holding that protected pick I believe the Kings would technically have to draft a player and then make the trade but that's fine by me.

After all, if the Kings got lucky in the lottery and got into the top three I'd expect them to keep the pick or make a bigger trade than for Larry Sanders. But if they end up at 7 or even 8 (due to a team leapfrogging them into the top three) then I'd certainly make that deal if Wiggins, Embiid, Parker, Exum and Vonleh are all off the board.

Cousins
Sanders
Gay
McLemore (?)
Thomas (?)/McCallum

isn't a bad lineup at all.
 
#5
Sanders is a complete mystery, because he had his best season last year and now, that he's got paid, he dropped to his sophomore level, which was pretty mediocre, and even that is only when he actually got on the floor. One can argue, that team falling off a cliff played a role in his level of interest in producing, but the opposite might be true just as easily, and you might be saddled with one of the worst contracts in the League, if 2012/13 season proves to be an outlier. Now if one of Landry/JT goes the other way, you might argue, that financial hit is not that big...But still very risky.
 
K

KingMilz

Guest
#6
If we can get rid of Landry/JT to get him I would do it, throw in Derrick Williams as well if Gay opts out maybe even do a Sessions for Thomas in there also depending on what IT want's us to pay him in a sign and trade type deal.
 
#7
Have we learned nothing over the past 7 years?

We need NBA players who actually want to play. Sanders Mailed it in the second he got paid. And he's thug off-court.

We're finally starting to build some potential chemistry with Cuz, Gay, IT, the rooks, and Evans. I don't need Sanders and his overpriced contract coming in and messing everything up again.
 

Tetsujin

The Game Thread Dude
#9
If we can get rid of Landry/JT to get him I would do it, throw in Derrick Williams as well if Gay opts out maybe even do a Sessions for Thomas in there also depending on what IT want's us to pay him in a sign and trade type deal.
Aren't you the guy who's constantly railing about our team's IQ? Not really sure how trading for a guy who seems to exhibit the intelligence of a box of rocks would solve things.
 

Tetsujin

The Game Thread Dude
#10
Personally I think the most obvious offer the Kings could make for Sanders is expiring contracts (some combination of Outlaw, Terry, Evans, Williams or Acy assuming they pick up his option this year) along with their first round pick. Due to the Hickson deal with Chicago (I think) currently holding that protected pick I believe the Kings would technically have to draft a player and then make the trade but that's fine by me.

After all, if the Kings got lucky in the lottery and got into the top three I'd expect them to keep the pick or make a bigger trade than for Larry Sanders. But if they end up at 7 or even 8 (due to a team leapfrogging them into the top three) then I'd certainly make that deal if Wiggins, Embiid, Parker, Exum and Vonleh are all off the board.

Cousins
Sanders
Gay
McLemore (?)
Thomas (?)/McCallum

isn't a bad lineup at all.
If that were the scenario, I'd much rather trade down and pick WCS and then potentially have a second pick to work with than throw salary at a guy who is set to make a ridiculous amount of money and a question mark at best.
 
#11
We seem to go through the same arguments every year here. I suggest some player who fits a role we badly need on our team (usually a plus defender of some kind) and you all tell me how we can't afford to part with any of the under appreciated role-players who led us to another brilliant 25 win season. One way or another we need someone in here who can protect the paint. Sanders wasn't just pretty good last year, he was the best shotblocker in the league. The two articles I linked to suggest that his performance wasn't a fluke. I don't know why his season was such a disaster for him -- injuries, new coach, new teammates -- but this looks like another good buy-low opportunity to me. There aren't very many opportunities to acquire elite defensive big men in their prime. Whether you believe in Rudy Gay or not is a different matter (I don't, obviously) but surely we can at least agree that a defender like Sanders would help this team a lot. Add an above-average perimeter defender to the mix as well and we'd be on our way to being respectable on defense for the first time in what feels like a decade.
 
#12
Whether you believe in Rudy Gay or not is a different matter (I don't, obviously) but surely we can at least agree that a defender like Sanders would help this team a lot. Add an above-average perimeter defender to the mix as well and we'd be on our way to being respectable on defense for the first time in what feels like a decade.
I think Sanders of 2012-13 would help this team a lot, but I'm not sure other iterations would.
 
#13
We seem to go through the same arguments every year here. I suggest some player who fits a role we badly need on our team (usually a plus defender of some kind) and you all tell me how we can't afford to part with any of the under appreciated role-players who led us to another brilliant 25 win season. One way or another we need someone in here who can protect the paint. Sanders wasn't just pretty good last year, he was the best shotblocker in the league. The two articles I linked to suggest that his performance wasn't a fluke. I don't know why his season was such a disaster for him -- injuries, new coach, new teammates -- but this looks like another good buy-low opportunity to me. There aren't very many opportunities to acquire elite defensive big men in their prime. Whether you believe in Rudy Gay or not is a different matter (I don't, obviously) but surely we can at least agree that a defender like Sanders would help this team a lot. Add an above-average perimeter defender to the mix as well and we'd be on our way to being respectable on defense for the first time in what feels like a decade.
This isn't about Sanders, the defensive roleplayer (although I highly question that notion as well). This is more about Sanders, the complete and utter idiot. We're finally in a good place with regards to surrounding Cuz with a decent support system. I think he likes playing for Malone and definitely appreciates the loyalty and commitment Vivek and CO made to him this past off-season. Vets like Evans and Gay have been good to help keep him grounded, and I think IT is one of his better friends in the league.

Sanders throws a giant wrench into that mix. Not only are we not completely stuck with our core (as Sanders, Gay, and Cuz would take up pretty much our entire cap), but you're also pairing 2 highly volatile mentalities together.
 
#14
He is the type of player we desperately need but I am not sure if he is the player we want. He is a huge risk because that $44 million deal just becomes plain untradeable if his contract year was once off!

Then again another side of the argument is to trade for Sanders and get some respectable veteran leaders that can keep him on srtaight and narrow.
 
#15
If that were the scenario, I'd much rather trade down and pick WCS and then potentially have a second pick to work with than throw salary at a guy who is set to make a ridiculous amount of money and a question mark at best.
No argument from me there. I've advocated WCS as a good choice if my top five are off the board.

Cauley-Stein might only ever be a poor man's Sanders or Tyson Chandler (and his statistical regression this season concerns me) but he'll also cost $8,000,000 a year less than those guys for the next four seasons.
 
#16
Taj Gibson is the PF I want Pete to trade for. Of course I want to hang on to the "Big Three" and the McRookies. Any other Players on the Kings would be a trade option.
 
#17
Taj Gibson is the PF I want Pete to trade for. Of course I want to hang on to the "Big Three" and the McRookies. Any other Players on the Kings would be a trade option.
I happen to like Gibson a lot too. He would slot in very well next to Cousins. My list of perfect (or near perfect) compliments to Cousins is...

Anthony Davis
Serge Ibaka
Al Horford
Joakim Noah
Taj Gibson

All 5 of those players are good shotblockers, rebounders, and post defenders. They also are athletic enough to guard quicker PFs, and they can knock down open jumpers to help spread the floor for Cousins and the rest of the team.

I would think Davis and Ibaka are near untouchable in a trade. Noah, Gibson, and Horford might be a little more attainable.

I'm not sure if Noah or Gibson have been made readily available. I get the impression that they are planning on amnestying Boozer which would mean they would roll with a core of Rose, Butler, Snell, Gibson, and Noah going forward. That's not a bad team to start building around. For that reason, I would assume they wouldn't give up Noah or Gibson easily.

Atlanta is fighting for that 8th seed with a record of 32-41 (with Horford injured for the majority of the season). Even with Horford healthy, I don't see this team as having the potential to compete for a championship. A team of Teague, L. Williams, Schroeder, Korver, Millsap, and Horford doesn't scream competitive to me. Personally, I would break it up and rebuild which would in turn make Horford available.
 
#18
I happen to like Gibson a lot too. He would slot in very well next to Cousins. My list of perfect (or near perfect) compliments to Cousins is...

Anthony Davis
Serge Ibaka
Al Horford
Joakim Noah
Taj Gibson

All 5 of those players are good shotblockers, rebounders, and post defenders. They also are athletic enough to guard quicker PFs, and they can knock down open jumpers to help spread the floor for Cousins and the rest of the team.

I would think Davis and Ibaka are near untouchable in a trade. Noah, Gibson, and Horford might be a little more attainable.

I'm not sure if Noah or Gibson have been made readily available. I get the impression that they are planning on amnestying Boozer which would mean they would roll with a core of Rose, Butler, Snell, Gibson, and Noah going forward. That's not a bad team to start building around. For that reason, I would assume they wouldn't give up Noah or Gibson easily.

Atlanta is fighting for that 8th seed with a record of 32-41 (with Horford injured for the majority of the season). Even with Horford healthy, I don't see this team as having the potential to compete for a championship. A team of Teague, L. Williams, Schroeder, Korver, Millsap, and Horford doesn't scream competitive to me. Personally, I would break it up and rebuild which would in turn make Horford available.
I doubt either Noah or Gibson are available. The only way that Gibson could be had is if the Bulls try to dump salary to make a run at Carmelo in the offseason, and even then, they're going to want some valuable future assets in return. Noah is probably less attainable than Derek Rose at this point.

Horford is an interesting option, although the injury history has me worried. I think Atlanta would want to hang on to him.

I really think you have to get your shotblocker in the draft. They are just too valuable to try to pick one up on the market unless you are a major market team.
 
#19
I doubt either Noah or Gibson are available. The only way that Gibson could be had is if the Bulls try to dump salary to make a run at Carmelo in the offseason, and even then, they're going to want some valuable future assets in return. Noah is probably less attainable than Derek Rose at this point.

Horford is an interesting option, although the injury history has me worried. I think Atlanta would want to hang on to him.

I really think you have to get your shotblocker in the draft. They are just too valuable to try to pick one up on the market unless you are a major market team.
I would tend to agree. I forgot to mention that I would also include Embiid and Vonleh into that group as well. They both are good shotblockers, rebounders, and post defenders, and they are athtletic, long, and can knock down jumpers.

If we could walk away with Vonleh from this draft, I would be a very happy camper.

PG - McCallum/Thomas
SG - McLemore/Terry
SF - Gay/Williams/Outlaw
PF - Vonleh/Evans/Landry/Acy
C - Cousins/Thompson

First off, I don't want this to turn into a discussion about McCallum over Thomas. I would experiment with starting McCallum over Thomas due to his defense, ability to stretch the floor, ball security, and roleplayers mentality. By no means am I advocating we get rid of Thomas because we have found our starting PG in McCallum.

With that in mind, Cousins and Gay would be the top two options on offense with McLemore being our offball/spot-up specialist. McCallum is there to run the offense and spread the floor while Vonleh is a threat to spread the floor as well. I think the offense would flow smoothly with this lineup.

On the defensive side, we may still have a little work to do. I see this lineup as having great defensive potential. Gay is an average defender with great size, length, and athleticism, but I don't see him getting any better as a defender. The other 4 players on the other hand all have the ability to be above average defenders in this league. McCallum is already a very good defender. I'm sure the more experience he gets the better he will become. McLemore has struggled defensively this year, but he has shown progress of late. There might be some hope for turning that elite athleticism into a solid defender. Vonleh was a good post defender and shotblocker in college. Hopefully, those skills translate over to the NBA and he continues to improve on them. Cousins has shown a lot of progress on this side of the ball this year. He has shown to be a pretty decent post defender so far. He's also improved his shotblocking this year. I'm sure the big fella has more room for growth, and I think Malone is just the guy to help him achieve it.

Lastly, the bench would obviously be very solid with Thomas, Williams, and Thompson coming in to relieve our starters.
 

Glenn

Hall of Famer
#20
I doubt either Noah or Gibson are available. The only way that Gibson could be had is if the Bulls try to dump salary to make a run at Carmelo in the offseason, and even then, they're going to want some valuable future assets in return. Noah is probably less attainable than Derek Rose at this point.

Horford is an interesting option, although the injury history has me worried. I think Atlanta would want to hang on to him.

I really think you have to get your shotblocker in the draft. They are just too valuable to try to pick one up on the market unless you are a major market team.
I also think we need to get the defender in the draft. It may be the only way to attain one. In a practical sense we can't afford to pay one and trading for one seems impossible as the assets we would have to give up would destroy what I think is a team on the move up. (Unless someone wants Landry, of course) Perhaps we could sign a defender if Gay opted out and we let him go but I think that would be foolish. We DO want a great team and as much as people pick at Rudy, he's the best sf we've had for a long, long time. Make a play for Gay if he opts out and keep him if he doesn't. of course. Draft the big guy. If we can't win with a competent pg, Cuz, Gay, and a relatively high draft pick, we might as well start looking to the coach or gm as the problem.

I will leave the argument as to who the competent pg is for other threads. :) This can go in many directions ----- thankfully.
 

Glenn

Hall of Famer
#21
I would tend to agree. I forgot to mention that I would also include Embiid and Vonleh into that group as well. They both are good shotblockers, rebounders, and post defenders, and they are athtletic, long, and can knock down jumpers.

If we could walk away with Vonleh from this draft, I would be a very happy camper.

PG - McCallum/Thomas
SG - McLemore/Terry
SF - Gay/Williams/Outlaw
PF - Vonleh/Evans/Landry/Acy
C - Cousins/Thompson

First off, I don't want this to turn into a discussion about McCallum over Thomas. I would experiment with starting McCallum over Thomas due to his defense, ability to stretch the floor, ball security, and roleplayers mentality. By no means am I advocating we get rid of Thomas because we have found our starting PG in McCallum.

With that in mind, Cousins and Gay would be the top two options on offense with McLemore being our offball/spot-up specialist. McCallum is there to run the offense and spread the floor while Vonleh is a threat to spread the floor as well. I think the offense would flow smoothly with this lineup.

On the defensive side, we may still have a little work to do. I see this lineup as having great defensive potential. Gay is an average defender with great size, length, and athleticism, but I don't see him getting any better as a defender. The other 4 players on the other hand all have the ability to be above average defenders in this league. McCallum is already a very good defender. I'm sure the more experience he gets the better he will become. McLemore has struggled defensively this year, but he has shown progress of late. There might be some hope for turning that elite athleticism into a solid defender. Vonleh was a good post defender and shotblocker in college. Hopefully, those skills translate over to the NBA and he continues to improve on them. Cousins has shown a lot of progress on this side of the ball this year. He has shown to be a pretty decent post defender so far. He's also improved his shotblocking this year. I'm sure the big fella has more room for growth, and I think Malone is just the guy to help him achieve it.

Lastly, the bench would obviously be very solid with Thomas, Williams, and Thompson coming in to relieve our starters.
I agree for the most part.

I think this team can be quite good defensively, even Rudy. I am guessing that if you give Malone an above average athlete, he will turn him into a defender. As a quick aside before I get to Cuz, I have seen some switching on defense for the first time in, well, forever. This team needs a training camp. Now to Cuz. When he was labeled the center of our defense or whatever the words were, I think a lot of us cringed. Was this hyperbole? He already was considered the corner stone of the franchise and the #1 option on offense and now he was expected to be our defensive anchor? It seemed silly yet Cuz has improved. Watch him.

I think Cuz supports my contention that Malone can turn a great athlete into a defender and it really makes sense, doesn't it? There is no reason except experience that Ben can't be a very good defender. He needs to learn the league and his team.

I will disagree on Williams as he is a bit of a disappointment but I think we have him at least for another year so let's see what evolves. I cringe at his salary.
 
#24
Per Woj tweet a couple minutes ago, Sanders was just suspended five games for violating the NBA's anti-drug program.
whoa. has there ever been a worse season following a big extension than the one larry sanders is having? i was on board with the notion of trading for sanders prior to the rudy gay acquisition, because i thought it would be a worthy high risk/high reward scenario, considering how little the maloof-era scraps added up to. but at this point, i wouldn't touch LS with a 10-meter cattle prod...
 

Bricklayer

Don't Make Me Use The Bat
Staff member
#25
Well look at the bright side, if we did "trade" for him, Milwaulkee would probably pay us to take him away at this point. :p
 
#26
Remember the entire reason we were able to trade for Chris Webber in the first place is that he was arrested in early 1998 for driving under the influence of marijuana and the Washington Bullets wanted to get rid of him. That was after he forced a trade out of GS because he didn't get along with the coach. Acquiring a player with off-the-court issues and an expensive contract is a risk, but every personnel decision in the NBA carries some risk. I think it might be warranted in this case. This isn't a guy who had one fluke series and talked his way into a big contract because of potential, he proved for an entire season that he's an elite defender. Does 23 games between injuries this season discount what he did all last season? Is there a precedent for a player blocking 200 shots in a season and then forgetting how?

Noah, Ibaka, and Davis are not realistic options. Gibson and Horford probably aren't either. None of them are on the trade block. The draft isn't the answer to everything. The only players in this draft who have the potential to maybe be as good defensively as Larry Sanders was last season are Joel Embiid and Willie Cauley-Stein and Embiid is most likely going to be off the board when we pick. We may not even have a first round pick next season. Who are we going to sign in free agency that's a dominant shot blocker and effective post defender? As I pointed out above, even if such a player were available there are 10 other teams with more cap space than we do next season and two of them play in New York and Los Angeles. I think waiting and hoping for one of those two unlikely scenarios to solve our problems should also be considered a risk. Asking a d-league call up to try and fill that hole in our lineup is a risk. If you agree with me that acquiring an interior defender should be a priority for us, you have to at least consider Larry Sanders, off the court issues be damned.
 
#28
Remember the entire reason we were able to trade for Chris Webber in the first place is that he was arrested in early 1998 for driving under the influence of marijuana and the Washington Bullets wanted to get rid of him. That was after he forced a trade out of GS because he didn't get along with the coach. Acquiring a player with off-the-court issues and an expensive contract is a risk, but every personnel decision in the NBA carries some risk. I think it might be warranted in this case. This isn't a guy who had one fluke series and talked his way into a big contract because of potential, he proved for an entire season that he's an elite defender. Does 23 games between injuries this season discount what he did all last season? Is there a precedent for a player blocking 200 shots in a season and then forgetting how?

Noah, Ibaka, and Davis are not realistic options. Gibson and Horford probably aren't either. None of them are on the trade block. The draft isn't the answer to everything. The only players in this draft who have the potential to maybe be as good defensively as Larry Sanders was last season are Joel Embiid and Willie Cauley-Stein and Embiid is most likely going to be off the board when we pick. We may not even have a first round pick next season. Who are we going to sign in free agency that's a dominant shot blocker and effective post defender? As I pointed out above, even if such a player were available there are 10 other teams with more cap space than we do next season and two of them play in New York and Los Angeles. I think waiting and hoping for one of those two unlikely scenarios to solve our problems should also be considered a risk. Asking a d-league call up to try and fill that hole in our lineup is a risk. If you agree with me that acquiring an interior defender should be a priority for us, you have to at least consider Larry Sanders, off the court issues be damned.
yeah, but chris webber was putting up 22/10/4 prior to being traded to the kings. he had already been an all-star. he was clearly one of the best PF's in the league, and he was making less money per year than larry sanders is making now. webber had some serious attitude issues before his redemption in sacramento, but as a superstar-in-the-making, he was every bit worth the risk. at best, sanders is a top-flight rim protector with limited utility everywhere else. i'm not sure that he's worth even half the risk, not at $11 million per, anyway...
 
#30
yeah, but chris webber was putting up 22/10/4 prior to being traded to the kings. he had already been an all-star. he was clearly one of the best PF's in the league, and he was making less money per year than larry sanders is making now. webber had some serious attitude issues before his redemption in sacramento, but as a superstar-in-the-making, he was every bit worth the risk. at best, sanders is a top-flight rim protector with limited utility everywhere else. i'm not sure that he's worth even half the risk, not at $11 million per, anyway...
My point was, if you're writing off Sanders do it because you don't like him as a player, not because his off-the-court issues scare you away. Webber had at least as many off court issues when we went out and acquired him, and he settled down and made Sacramento his home to the benefit of us all. Sanders isn't the do-it-all great that Webber was, but his contract isn't anything like Webber's either. He's not single-handily bringing down the franchise if he gets hurt or suspended.

I could have also mentioned that re-signing Rudy Gay to a big extension carries a whole lot of risk as well so really what I'm talking about is exchanging risk of one kind for risk of a different kind. I don't like the Rudy Gay risk. I think his skills are replaceable and his price tag and past history make me nervous about the chances of that deal working out. With Sanders, he fills a much more pressing need and his skills are much harder to replace. We can find another scorer. Elite interior defenders are few and far between.