Ever since Larry Sanders returned to the lineup in late December, speculation has swirled about his future with the Milwaukee Bucks.
The two obvious sides to the coin are that either management wants to deal the 6’11”, 235-pound forward and his four-year, $44 million contract (which kicks in next season), or rather that they want to keep Sanders as a core piece of their rebuilding plan.
In November, though, the fourth-year big man’s attitude and commitment to the game were called into question following a night club incident that forced him to the sidelines for 25 games with a thumb injury.
Then on Wednesday, Sanders may have added a ripple to the trade speculation by pouring in a career-high 25 points and hauling in a season-high 15 rebounds, despite the 110-100 loss to the Denver Nuggets. He shot a tidy 12-for-19 from the field and scored on a variety of post moves.
This was easily his best performance of the season and it raises some questions about how or where Sanders wants his basketball career to unfold.
Perhaps there is nothing to this and it is simply a case of the 25-year-old finally rounding into game shape and form in what was only his 22nd appearance of the season. But, on the other hand, the possibility exists that Sanders is striving to increase his trade value leading up to the Feb. 20 deadline.
So while the Bucks may have cooled on the idea of trading Sanders at a time when teams are likely presenting low-ball offers, maybe it is now Sanders himself trying to force the issue with improved play.
Sanders has been very quiet on the matter, although it is conceivable that he has grown tired of all the losing this season and the prospect of what could be a long road back to contention.
Of course, this narrative is largely based on one good game and is one that could quickly change.
Nevertheless, it is worth keeping an eye on how Sanders plays over the next couple weeks and what effect, if any, that will have on his future.