Andrew Bogut finally provides the backup big-man that Cleveland needed all season long. Then he broke his leg. Fans are now clamoring for Larry Sanders, but is that the right move?
Before we get into the fallout of the Bogut injury (RIP dream of getting another Australian an NBA title), let's get one thing straight: The Andrew Bogut era wasn't even the worst "center named Andrew" era of Cavaliers basketball. That honor still belongs to Andrew Bynum's 24 games in the 2013-14 season.
The Bynum experiment ended when he spent practice "shooting the ball whenever he touched it, regardless of where he was on the court."
The Bogut injury sucks, but it could be worse. (Note: I chose the clip above of Bynum not because it shows that he could've still been an excellent center, but rather because the clip begins with eight seconds on the shot clock and Bynum never leaves the key at any point. He took root in there and that's illegal.)
With that out of the way, what should the Cavs do with the hole in their big-man rotation now that their perfect scenario - Bogut becomes a free agent and comes to Cleveland - turned into a disaster? Numerous lists have been made and most of them include the same names: Eric Moreland (D-leaguer in the Cavs organization), Anderson Varejao, Chris Kaman, and most commonly, Larry Sanders.
Those first three guys are known commodities and would never see the floor for the Cavs unless several players sat out a game. The last one is getting a lot of heat. Allegedly, before signing Bogut, the Cavaliers were interested in Sanders. In case you don't read anything about the NBA other than my articles, Sanders has been out of the league for a couple of years after having some personal issues and not wanting to play basketball anymore (and if you don't read anything about the NBA other than my articles, you are probably my mom).
The truth is this: The Cleveland Cavaliers don't need Larry Sanders.
It's been said over and over, but the point remains that this season is about beating the Golden State Warriors in the event of a rubber-match NBA Finals. Last year's Finals saw Cleveland's third and fourth bigs play a grand total of 58 minutes in seven games. Why do we think Sanders would make a difference?
Mozgov, the "rim protector", played the final 1:52 of Game 5 in a double-digit win, the last 2:19 of Game 6 in a double-digit win, and didn't play at all in Game 7. Channing Frye didn't play in any of those games. In all likelihood, Larry Sanders wouldn't either.
"But he's a big athletic defender" is probably your response. That would be a fine retort if the Cavaliers had a chance to sign 2013 Larry Sanders. The last time we saw Sanders was in the 2014-15 season when he averaged 6.1 defensive rebounds per 36 minutes. That number is almost identical to Mozgov's 6.2 per 36 minutes from the regular season last year - a number that effectively reduced him to mop-up duty down the stretch in the Finals. As for the shot-blocking, yes, Sanders was a fantastic shot blocker for a few years. In the 27 games he played in that final season in Milwaukee, however, Sanders saw his lowest block numbers and highest personal foul numbers of his short career. He was committing four fouls a night in just under 22 minutes. That would be a problem in a high school game with eight minute quarters, let alone in the NBA.
The second reason the Cavaliers don't need Larry Sanders is that the "workout" they put him through a few weeks back wasn't actually a workout. No one knows if he can play basketball anymore and no other team with a need thought he was worth their time. Sanders reportedly worked out for the Wizards and Celtics - both of whom were looking to add frontcourt depth - but both teams passed before he met with the Cavs.
Sanders has played in fewer total basketball games since the summer of 2013 than LeBron has played playoff games.
The whole circumstance of his pseudo-retirement also suggests that he hasn't been staying in basketball shape. He said, "If I get to a point where I feel I'm capable of playing basketball again, then I will." That doesn't sound like someone who was out practicing every day in hopes of one day coming back to the league. He clearly stated that he wanted to sort out his mental health and spiritual well-being before getting back to playing basketball. For his sake, I hope he's done that. I hope he's as happy as he can possibly be. I just do not believe that he's still an NBA-caliber basketball player.
If this guy shows up, yes, the Cavaliers should sign him.
That video is from 2012. There have been no indications that that's who is meeting with teams about a possible return to basketball. I'll admit that a 10-day contract as an audition is low-risk enough that I don't see any reason not to go for it, but acting like Larry Sanders is the solution to clinch a repeat title seems crazy to me.
If Cleveland clears a roster spot, sure, take a swing. If not, keep Bogut around for the purposes of scouting Golden State. Of course, they've looked downright beatable without Durant, and they're in danger of losing the No. 1 seed in the west, so maybe none of this matters.
Basketball is the best.