Now in his fourth season, the center-forward has career averages of 6.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and an impressive 1.9 blocks in 18.8 minutes per game, but he has appeared in only three contests in 2013-14.
The 25-year-old was projected to miss four to six weeks after having surgery on Nov. 11 to repair damage to his right thumb and it is believed that he is nearing a return to the practice court. Although the Bucks have missed the defensive presence of the 6’11”, 235-pounder, it is clear that the team has found a suitable and less expensive option.
Sanders was signed to a four-year, $44 million contract extension that will kick in next season. The Bucks decided to commit long-term to Sanders after his breakout campaign of 2012-13, when he posted 9.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and finished second in the league with 2.8 blocks per game.
It’s debatable how easy Sanders would be to move now given his salary and lack of production this season; however, the Bucks have reason to gauge interest from other teams, especially with the emergence of second-year forward John Henson.
After a solid rookie campaign, the 22-year-old Henson has shown remarkable improvement this year.
Henson, also 6’11”, had a monster of a game on Dec. 10, scoring a season-high 25 points, along with 14 rebounds, three steals and six blocks.
Furthermore, the University of North Carolina product has already recorded six blocks on three occasions this season.
Henson, earning $1.9 million this season, will also be playing at a bargain price for another two years at a total cost of $4.9 million.
We’re looking at two young, very talented players, but I’m comfortable saying that Henson is a better option at this point. Of course, it may not be as easy to say this once Sanders returns from injury, rounds into game shape and finds his rhythm.
Whether the Bucks decide to move Sanders is anyone’s guess, but having an abundance of talent is almost always a good problem to have.
There is also something to be said for a little internal competition.