CLEVELAND (AP) — Larry Sanders walked away from the NBA. He’s coming back to a team that needs his help.
Sanders, who left the league two years ago after five seasons with Milwaukee, signed Monday with the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers.
The 6-foot-11 shot blocker brings some needed frontcourt depth to the struggling NBA champions, who are just 2-5 in March and have been giving up way too many easy baskets.
The Cavs have been in the market for a big man since Andrew Bogut broke his left leg just 58 seconds into his debut with Cleveland last week. As expected, the Cavs waived Bogut, who sent well wishes to Sanders on Twitter by posting, “Best of luck @l8show_thegoat Will be watching.”
With one month left in the regular season, the Cavs remain a work in progress.
They’re still trying to integrate point guard Deron Williams into the flow and playing without All-Star forward Kevin Love, who is nearing a return after undergoing knee surgery.
Because his game is rusty, the Cavs intend to have Sanders play with their D-League affiliate in Canton to work on his conditioning and timing.
Sanders gives Cleveland some presence inside and another big man to back up Tristan Thompson and Channing Frye — the only true frontline players on the roster while Love is out. The Cavs have been thin up front all season after letting Timofey Mozgov leave as a free agent and Sanders gives Cavs coach Tyronn Lue another option — but also another new player to work into the rotation.
LeBron James is interested to see if Sanders can help.
“An athletic big guy, incredible shot-blocking skills, anticipation around the rim, can finish around the rim and block shots and being able to guard perimeter guys as well,” James said before the team offered Sanders a deal.
“It looks like he wants another opportunity and hopefully if we’re the team, hopefully we give him an opportunity,” James said. “Why not? Everyone deserves a second chance and it look like he wants to get back to playing the game he loves and hopefully this is his destination.”
Sanders worked out for Cleveland last month, but the team decided to sign Bogut instead after he was traded by Dallas and then waived by Philadelphia. The 28-year-old Sanders averaged 6.5 points and 5.8 rebounds in five seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks, but he hasn’t played since February 2015.
Sanders was suspended for 10 games two years ago in for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. It was his second suspension for marijuana use.
AP Sports Writer Jon Krawczynski in Minneapolis contributed to this report.
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