The prognosis for Larry Sanders didn’t look promising coming into this week after he suffered an injury to his face on Saturday as the Milwaukee Bucks took on the Houston Rockets. Sanders caught an elbow from James Harden and went down writhing in pain. Reports soon after said that he had broken his orbital bone and was out indefinitely.
There’s now a timetable for Sanders’ return to the Bucks’ lineup and it’s hardly promising. After having surgery to repair the broken eye socket as the NBA heads into All-Star Weekend, David Aldridge reported that the center would be out for six weeks to heal from the injury.
While most of the time in this league you have to take initial timetables with a grain of salt (see Westbrook, Russell), this injury has the feeling of one that will probably last up to the six weeks. You don’t really want to put a player in jeopardy by rushing him back to the floor when he’s got something wrong with anything in his head area.
This will be the second lengthy absence from the floor for Sanders this season. Sanders missed over a month at the start of the season due to a thumb injury that he sustained in a bar fight that also required surgery. After signing a four-year, $44 million extension this summer, the talented shot-blocker hasn’t been able to stay on the floor much at all this year.
The sad truth for the Bucks, though, is that the Sanders injury is relatively inconsequential. The Bucks come into the All-Star break having won just nine games this season and have played the role of “tanking hard for the 2014 NBA Draft” quite well. Having Zaza Pachulia play big minutes at starting center with Sanders out will only solidify their high draft pick even further.
In terms of Sanders, though, his future with the team is uncertain. His name has been discussed in plenty of trade rumors, though the Bucks are reportedly not fielding any offers. However, there are also reports that Milwaukee would take center Joel Embiid if they were to get the first-overall pick in the draft, which would seemingly put an expiration date on Sanders’ time with the Bucks. For now, though, Sanders won’t have the chance to prove his worth as he recovers from surgery, which will make it all the more intriguing to see how things shake out in Brew-town.