- Tony Dejak/AP
The addition of Andrew Bogut didn’t go as planned for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Just 58 seconds into his debut with the Cavaliers, following a buyout with the Philadelphia 76ers, Bogut broke his leg, ending his season and his tenure as a backup enforcer for the Cavs.
On Monday, the Cavaliers found his replacement, signing 28-year-old center Larry Sanders to act as a backup big man.
The signing will be an interesting one to watch for the rest of the NBA. Sanders was considered an athletic, talented, up-and-coming big man with the Milwaukee Bucks for six years before he famously retired from the league in 2015, citing off-court mental issues and other interests. Sanders had failed several drug tests while in the NBA, and after retiring, checked himself into a mental-health hospital for anxiety and depression, according to ESPN.
That was two years ago. Sanders hasn’t played since and has seemingly only generated casual interest from teams as his name floated in comeback rumors.
Now, the Cavs are asking him to play a fairly important role, though it may not seem that way. Sure, Sanders won’t be asked to anchor the defense or perhaps even play on a consistent basis. But the Cavs are thin in the middle and lack a true paint-bound presence that can gather rebounds, finish easy shots, and deter opponents from attacking the basket. Tristan Thompson currently shoulders a heavy amount of that burden. Chris Andersen, another backup center, tore his ACL early in the year, before the Cavs traded him. Channing Frye may be the only other true big man on the roster, and he doesn’t fit the mold of a defensive enforcer.
According to ESPN, scouts say Sanders is slimmer than he was a few years ago and the timing is off, but he still has an intriguing natural athleticism. While it may take time for him to re-gain form, as has been seen time and time again in the NBA playoffs, even the 15th man on the roster can make a huge difference. The Cavs are hopeful Sanders can give them that type of boost down the road.