Frustration is mounting for Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders. The team gave him a four-year, $44 million extension this summer, entrusting him in being a big part of the future. But in the present, first-year Bucks coach Larry Drew isn't following that plan.
Sanders is playing 17.3 minutes per game while averaging 2.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and two blocks per game. He's not happy about his role, and he made that known in an interview with NBA.com's Steve Aschburner.
"I feel like I'm capable of being in the game at the end and helping my team win, coming up with blocks and rebounds," Sanders told NBA.com before exiting the locker room swiftly after a Saturday loss to Toronto. "I haven't been able to get my rhythm out there. I understand foul trouble situations, but tonight I wasn't in foul trouble.
"Last year I finished so many games. I feel like that's when I lock in the most. But I haven't been able to get in the game to finish. That carries over to the next game. When you sit the last three quarters of each game, I can't have no carryover. And it's hard for me. I'm still a young player. It's only my eighth year playing basketball."
Sanders' teammate John Henson told Aschburner he's been in his teammate's ear to quell the frustration. Henson even guessed that Sanders is pushing himself too hard in proving he's worth his contract extension. Meanwhile, Drew hasn't been critical of Sanders, per se, but he has wondered whether playing for the Bucks' third coach in the last year is holding the center back.
Sanders is taking 5.3 attempts per game but only shooting 25 percent. Drew noted Sanders' missed shots in the paint in acknowledging his center is off, for whatever reason.
Drew believes that Sanders adjusting to a new offense will take time. Though the Bucks coach hasn't used a center in the crunch-time lineups in all three of Milwaukee's games, he is playing center Zaza Pachulia 26 minutes per game. That fact aside, Drew isn't putting any more pressure on Sanders to produce. He's talking about patience.
That said, the big man is not waiting around. He wants to play crunch-time minutes, and he'd like to find his old role soon.