Larry Sanders' sudden retirement from the NBA in February of 2015 was one of the more unexpected stories of the year. The promising center was just 26-years old at the time, but took a buyout from the Milwaukee Bucks to walk away from basketball and explore his other passions, while also dealing with his own mental health issues.
After a year away from the game, Sanders spoke with Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders and revealed he is contemplating a comeback."I could see myself coming back to the NBA," Sanders told Kennedy. "I mean, I'll just leave it at that. I can't say too much. (laughs) I can see myself coming back there."
With Roy Hibbert's contract expiring at the conclusion of the 2015-16 season, the Los Angeles Lakers will have a hole at center to fill this summer. If they want to investigate Sanders filling it, they would only have to look into the stands at one of their home games:
"Oh, I do miss [basketball]. I have season tickets for the Los Angeles Lakers and I love watching and dissecting the game. I mean, I love this game. I really do. I love to play it, and I do still play a lot here in L.A. But there were some things about it, some situations, that I didn't love. But I feel like I'm in a much better place right now and I'm equipped to be able to put myself in that situation again."
Sanders mental health status is obviously the paramount concern here before discussing what he could bring to the court. But if the seven-footer decides he is ready to return to the game, he could be an under the radar option to plug the Lakers hole in the middle.
Los Angeles has sorely lacked rim protection this season while playing the worst defense of any team in the NBA, and Sanders could help on that end. The former Buck averaged 3.3 blocks per game over his five NBA seasons, with his teams only giving up more than 100 points per 100 possessions while he was on the floor in one of his five seasons in the league, according to Basketball Reference.
The Lakers will almost certainly look at starrier options to open free agency, but if they miss on players like Hassan Whiteside and Al Horford, Sanders could be an interesting option for a team that isn't in a position to turn away talent.
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