According to ESPN’s Chris Haynes, the Cleveland Cavaliers have agreed to a deal with free agent center Larry Sanders. Sanders, who hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2014-15 season, is expected to officially sign his contract later today.
ESPN Sources: Cleveland Cavaliers, free agent Larry Sanders agree to deal. https://t.co/87LtE72kCr— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) March 13, 2017
Sanders, 28, will take Andrew Bogut’s place on the roster. Bogut signed with the Cavs last week, but broke his leg during his first appearance with the team. Cleveland is expected to waive him Monday to make room for Sanders.
Per USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt, Sanders will sign with the Cavs on a deal that includes non-guaranteed money for next season:
In addition to remainder of the season, Cavaliers will sign Larry Sanders to a non-guaranteed deal for 2017-18. Team plans to waive Bogut.— Jeff Zillgitt (@JeffZillgitt) March 13, 2017
Per Shams Charania of The Vertical, Josh Smith was the other big the Cavs were talking to about a deal. Smith is currently playing in China and played last season with the Rockets and Clippers.
Sanders last played during the 2014-15 season with the Milwaukee Bucks and walked away from the game due to anxiety and depression. He later checked himself into a hospital for treatment. He also violated the NBA’s drug policy on multiple occasions due to positive marijuana tests.
When he signs, Sanders will be expected to soak up minutes in the frontcourt and help keep Tristan Thompson’s minutes down. The Cavs have been up front due to injuries to Kevin Love, Chris ‘Birdman’ Anderson and Bogut. Currently, Thompson and Channing Frye are the only healthy bigs on the roster.
When planning his comeback, Sanders told Complex that he wanted to play for a title and in a low-pressure environment.
"I want to be in the right place mentally, and they deserve that," Sanders told Complex. "The team and the fans deserve that and it will be a situation where I feel completely safe, the team feels completely safe and we're ready to rock 'n' roll. I'm not going to go to a situation with one foot in and one out. It would be a fully committed thing with no pressure."
This also marks another situation where a team starring LeBron James will help a player attempt a comeback. When James played for the Heat, Miami signed Andersen after the big man had been out of the league for a year due to legal issues. Over the weekend, James said that he hoped the Cavs would sign Sanders.
“It looks like he wants another opportunity, and hopefully, if we’re the team, hopefully we give him an opportunity,” James said prior to Saturday’s Cavs-Magic game. “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?”
In five NBA seasons, Sanders has averages of 6.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. He lead the league in blocks during the 2012-13 season.