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Trade "Thursday": Trading for Larry Sanders in Milwaukee

Two seasons ago, LARRY SANDERS! had all of basketball twitter in love with his high-flyin' and shot blockin'. Since then, things haven't gone so well. Let's set aside whether you want him as a Mavericks -- here's what it would probably take.

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

(manager's note: pretend it's Thursday, cool? Also, let me remind you: these trade articles aren't saying the Mavericks should or shouldn't pursue the player being discussed, they're just showing how it might be done.)

All eyes are on the upcoming free agency and the likes of Luol Deng, Trevor Ariza, Marcin Gortat, and so on, but don't forget that the trade market could also provide some realistic chances to improve the roster. Over the years we've seen the Dallas Mavericks bring in plenty of names via trade -- Tyson Chandler, Jerry Stackhouse, Jason Kidd, Caron Butler, Raef LaFrentz, Jason Terry and so on.

According to our Hal Brown, Dallas could have as much as $39 million in cap space available to upgrade the roster. We'll look at potential trade targets and try to break down possible trade scenarios to bring them in.

Note: Because of the value uncertainty of draft picks, I will avoid using them in these trade scenarios, though I may make mention of them as a hurdle or not.

Next up?

Larry Sanders - 4 years- $44 million (Fully Guaranteed)

At 25 years old, Sanders supplies the necessary tools to be an impactful shot blocker in the NBA. With Tyson Chandler, Samuel Dalembert and Brandan Wright showing athletic centers are the best compliment to Dirk Nowitzki, it's not a question of if Sanders would fit, but how could he brought in.

After averaging 9.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks during the 2012-2013 campaign, the Milwaukee Bucks would reward their youthful center with a lucrative contract extension that is set to kick in this offseason. But injury and maturity issues marred Sanders' last season, and with the size of his new contract, the Bucks now have to make the decision whether they want to keep him or ship him away..

Scenario One

Mavs get Sanders ($11 million)

Bucks get Brandan Wright, Shane Larkin, Wayne Ellington (~9.3mil)

With excess cap room, the Mavs should have no issue with absorbing the cap difference in this trade.

Why would the Bucks do this? The NBA's second worst team needs all the talent it can get to fill it's roster. They net three still youthful and contract-friendly players. With Nate Wolters the only true point guard on the roster, Larkin could have the opportunity to jump in and compete for the starting spot. Wright gives the team a great finisher around the basket who can share time with John Henson at the center spot. Worst case scenario with Ellington is he is an expiring contract who will save them money the following season.

Scenario Two

Mavs get Sanders and combination(s) of O.J. Mayo, Zaza Pachulia, Ersan Ilyasova and/or Carlos Delfino (~$20-35 mil)

Bucks get Samuel Dalembert, Gal Mekel, Larkin, Wright and Ellington (~$14 mil)

This can be a little tricky. The Bucks are loaded with some pretty large and unappealing contracts. Mayo, Pachulia, Illyasova and Delfino all have two seasons remaining on their deals. Excluding Illyasova, who is still somewhat youthful, the rest don't exactly play into the Bucks future.

This is where the Mavs play in. If they have the necessary cap space available, they can help Milwaukee unload these ugly signings in their pursuit to land Sanders. With the belief that not a single Mavs player would welcome a sign-and-trade to Milwaukee, it's unlikely the Mavs would be able to acquire more than two of the throw-ins.

Why do the Bucks do this? They're a bad team paying big money for players who aren't exactly benefitting them. Also, by being a small market team, they may see it better to be bad and cheap than be bad and expensive. Again, they net some good youth in Larkin, Wright, and Mekel. They could also save more money if they choose to by letting go of Dalembert and his non fully guaranteed contract.

Why do the Mavs do this? They obtain the center they've been missing since letting Chandler walk. Depending on who comes along with him, the Mavs could land some useful pieces. Former Mav -- Mayo -- could fill in as the backup to Monta Ellis, a role he played while backing up Tony Allen in Memphis, although the Mavericks obviously may be relunctant to bring back the guard after he disappeared towards the end of the 2013 season.

Slightly more appealing options include Pachulia, who offers plenty of size at the center spot, and Delfino, who could be Mavs what they expected from Ellington when they inked him. And the least likely to be obtained of the bunch -- Illasova -- would give Dallas the perfect backup to Nowitzki due to his ability to rebound and spread the court if they were somehow able to convince Milwaukee to part with him.

As I warned, this scenario can become complicated due to the various pieces that can be involved. If Mayo is forced to be in this deal, the Mavs may look the other way. But if Illyasova is in his place, Dallas would add two pricey, yet excellent pieces to the team with him and Sanders.


This isn't an easy situation to dissect. Coming off an injury riddled season in which he played on 23 games, Sanders' injury issues still loom large. He has appeared in more than 60 games only once during his four year career (granted, one season was due to the lockout shortened season).

Along with his injury concerns, teams may be scared off due to his maturity. With reports of him punching former teammate Mike Dunleavy Jr. in the face and his public defense of his marijuana use, the risk may be too high. If that's the case and the Mavs brass feels confident of their veteran locker room, they possibly could be the only trade partner the Bucks have. He also abused a dog, which isn't cool at all.

Another key to a possible Sanders' trade is what Milwaukee does with the second overall pick in the draft. If center Joel Embiid falls in their laps, trading Sanders may become a priority rather than an option.

Sanders shows plenty of upside as an athletic finisher and shot blocker, but with only one of his four seasons considered a success and plenty of concerns looming, obtaining him may not be as difficult as some make it out to be.