Larry Sanders begins serving five-game suspension--and saves about $361,000

USA TODAY Sports

Sanders was not expected to return this season after suffering an orbital fracture in early February. But with a five-game suspension threatening to carry over to next season, the Bucks reevaluated their options.

UPDATE #1: Check out Tom Ziller's piece explaining how the Bucks were able to get medical clearance from the league to allow Sanders to begin his suspension.

UPDATE #2: The intrepid Ben Golliver notes that players only lose 1/110 of their annual salary for each game suspended rather 1/82, which reduces the benefit of Sanders serving his suspension now from almost $500k (as originally reported) to around $360k. It's not entirely clear why the NBA divides by 110, but I'm guessing it might be because 110 games is the absolute maximum number of regular season plus playoff games a team can play in a season (82 + 4 rounds of playoffs x 7 games/round = 110).. The numbers have been updated below.

Serving a suspension doesn't typically save you money, but then again there's been nothing typical about Larry Sanders' season.

Weeks after he had been declared out for the season and five days after he was suspended for a third positive test for marijuana, Sanders received medical clearance to return to the court ahead of Wednesday night's matchup with the Pacers. Of course the reason for the U-turn had nothing to do with getting Sanders back on the court this season, but rather to make sure he doesn't miss time next season. So rather than sit out the next five games for precautionary (ie we're terrible and who cares?) reasons, Sanders will serve his suspension now and be eligible to return for opening night next fall. Also, remember this about face the next time anyone suggests the Bucks were trying "too hard" to win games late in the season. Might seem funny now that the Bucks have the number one lotto seed locked up, but a couple of weeks ago plenty of people were bickering about it.

Overall this is good news for the Bucks and even better news for Sanders, who also figures to save a boatload of money by serving his suspension before his $44 million extension kicks in this summer. Based on his current $3.053 million salary, Sanders will lose just under $139,000 by sitting out the final two weeks of the season. But it could be worse. With an annual salary of $11 million starting next season, Sanders would have lost an even $500,000 had the suspension been served next fall.

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