Milwaukee Bucks General Manager John Hammond announced Friday that Larry Sanders underwent successful on Thursday to repair right orbital bone fractures. Sanders suffered the injury in the opening quarter of the Bucks' February 8 game against the Houston Rockets, when James Harden inadvertently hit Sanders in the face with his elbow. Sanders is expected to miss at least six weeks as he recovers. Assuming that time frame is correct, Sanders likely won't return to the court until late March at the earliest. At that point, the Bucks could have just 10-12 games remaining on their schedule. If Sanders' recovery takes longer than expected, it's entirely possible that he won't appear in another game for Milwaukee this season.
Such a result would be a sadly fitting end to a season plagued by misfortune for Sanders, who got off to a slow start before injuring his hand in a fight at a Milwaukee club. While his play was trending upward before this latest injury, Sanders still hadn't quite returned to the level of productivity that earned him a 4-year, $44 million contract extension last summer.
Sanders' injury isn't just a tough blow for him; it could have significant long-term repercussions for his team. The Bucks now have even less time to evaluate Sanders' performance alongside John Henson, who has missed time recently with an ankle injury. Zaza Pachulia will likely start in Sanders' absence, possibly decreasing the (probably already small) likelihood of the Bucks dealing him before next Thursday's trade deadline. The development of Brandon Knight and continued growth of Giannis Antetokounmpo are sure to be top priorities for the organization over the second-half of the season, but losing a player like Sanders, who looked like a critical part of the franchise's future plans after last season, really throws things out of whack.