In the final turn of the Larry Sanders saga in Milwaukee, the Bucks officially announced Saturday evening that the team has requested waivers with the 26-year-old center, ending his tenure with the franchise.
"We believe this decision is in the best interest of our team," General Manager John Hammond said in the team's press release. "We wish Larry well and remain excited about the future of the Bucks organization."
Reports surfaced this week regarding a buyout, some even saying it had been reached for days, with the club waiting for paperwork from Sanders' party. The buyout was confirmed by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, and Wojnarowski also released that the buyout will leave Sanders with half of the $44 million he got in the new deal he signed in August of 2013. The specific financial terms of the deal has not been officially released.
The Bucks are allowed to use the stretch provision on the remaining three years of Sanders deal, which keeps Sanders on the books for a longer amount of time, but minimizes the effect that number has on the team's cap space. Under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, the provision stretches the cost of the buyout over the next seven years, using the "times two plus one" formula (3 years x 2 + 1 = 7 years).
Sam Amick of USA Today is reporting that the buyout is approximately $15.2 million, suggesting the Bucks would be set to owe Sanders $2.17 million annually through the 2021-2022 season. The reduced buyout figure and usage of the stretch provision would slash almost $9 million from the Bucks' cap number over the next three years.
The last game Sanders played for the Bucks was December 23 against Charlotte. After that night's loss, the Bucks didn't open their locker room until roughly 50 minutes after the game because of a team-meeting. After that game, Sanders was listed out due to an illness until head coach Jason Kidd revealed Jan. 2 that things changed to personal reasons. Shortly after that, Sanders spoke after the team's 102-96 loss to the Phoenix Suns, which was the first time he opened up publicly about his absence since that December game against the Hornets. That was the last time he spoke publicly.
In five seasons with Milwaukee, Sanders averaged just 6.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game, but established himself as one of the best rim protectors in the NBA during his third year. In 2012-13 -- his best statistical season in the league -- Sanders blocked 2.8 shots per game (league-best 7.6 block percentage) while averaging nearly a double-double (9.8 points, 9.5 rebounds). He also finished with the sixth-best defensive rating in the league.
What's next for the Bucks? The buyout does open up a roster spot, though it is unclear as to whether the Bucks will look to fill that right away. Kenyon Martin had to be waived and Kendall Marshall traded in order to accommodate the Bucks' trade deadline dealing, and it's likely one of them would still be on the roster if the Sanders buyout had been completed earlier.