The already unfortunate 2013-14 season of Milwaukee Bucks big man Larry Sanders has gotten much worse. Last Wednesday, Sanders missed his team's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers with an injury to his right thumb. At the time, Sanders was also under investigation for his role in a bar fight on November 2. While he was not charged for any conduct related to that incident, Sanders has failed to play in another game this season in an attempt to heal his injury. The most promising player on the roster has not been able to have much of an impact on the Bucks' season so far.
On Monday, the news got much worse. As announced by the Bucks on Twitter, Sanders underwent surgery to repair a ligament in his thumb and will miss approximately six weeks:
Sanders had initially stated that he injured his thumb in the November 2 game against the Toronto Raptors. However, the Bucks also stated Monday that the injury occurred during an "off-court incident" that everyone assumes to be the aforementioned fight. From Charles F. Gardner for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Sanders said he injured his thumb in the Nov. 2 home game against Toronto but the Bucks confirmed Monday that the injury occurred in an off-court incident. Following that game, in the early morning hours of Nov. 3, Sanders was involved in an altercation at Apartment 720, a downtown nightclub.
If Sanders was in fact injured during this fight, the Bucks can be forgiven for being a little upset. This summer, they inked Sanders to a four-year, $44-million extension that made the elite interior defender a big part of the team's long-term plans. After just three games, Sanders voiced displeasure over his crunch-time role (or lack thereof) in new head coach Larry Drew's rotation. Now, Sanders will have to sit out for an extended period. It's hard to imagine a more disappointing start to the season.
With Sanders out, Zaza Pachulia, the starter in Sanders' recent absence, figures to occupy the role for the foreseeable future. The Bucks should also depend more on Ekpe Udoh, John Henson, and rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo.
For non-partisans, the loss of Sanders robs the Bucks of their most watchable player, a uniquely energetic rim protector with a chance to become the league's premier defensive center at some point in his career. Hopefully his recovery time ends up on the shorter side of this six-week estimate.
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