A Milwaukee Bucks core of Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings just seemed totally destined for draft-lottery limbo. However, the emergence of powerful-defensive postman Larry Sanders gives the Bucks organization a huge reason for optimism going into the future.
The 24-year-old shot-blocking phenom has not only emerged as one of the most terrifying presences in the paint, but also seems to be taking a leadership role — that has rumored to also come at the expense of Jennings and Ellis. Ellis is speculated to opt out of his $11 million deal after arriving from the Golden State Warriors in the Andrew Bogut deal, and according to at least one prominent reporter, Sanders made a point of it during the team’s first-round exit against the Miami Heat.
CBS Sports NBA writer Ken Berger summed up the altercation between Sanders and Ellis
“After the Bucks lost 104-91 to the Heat in Milwaukee on April 25,” wrote Berger. “Sanders vented in the locker room and said in a fiery speech, ‘We need to start playing together as a team and stop worrying about next year,’ according to one of the people briefed on the confrontation. ‘We need to stop being selfish and start worrying about right now.’
“Ellis ‘took umbrage,’ according to another person with knowledge of the situation. Correctly assuming that Sanders’ comments were directed primarily at him and backcourt mate Brandon Jennings, who both are prospective free agents, Ellis approached Sanders and squared off with him, sources said. A teammate got between the two players and separated them before the conflict became physical.”
Either it won’t be long — or the time has already come — where this is officially Sanders’ team.