Larry Sanders回來啦！兩年前的一場他自認為表現尚可的比賽後，他是這樣形容自己的：「我是一個人，一個父親，一個藝術家、作家、畫家和音樂家，偶爾我也打打籃球。」而在此之前，他剛剛深陷焦慮，精神萎靡，以及數起由大麻引起的禁賽綜合形成的困境之中。那時候，6尺11寸的Sanders才履行完他同公鹿續簽的4年4400萬美金大合約的第一年。2010年的選秀大會，正是公鹿看中了他的機動性、護框能力以及掩護能力，從而以15號籤把他摘下。公鹿相信他和長臂怪John Henson組成的內線雙塔能夠以超長的臂展和恐怖的防守壓迫力統治禁區。
Larry Sanders is back! Two years ago Sanders, a self-described 「person, father, artist, writer, painter, and musician who sometimes plays basketball,」 walked away from the game that he thought he was just OK at after struggling with depression and anxiety and various marijuana-related suspensions. At the time, the 6-foot-11 Sanders was only a year or so into a four-year, $44 million extension with the Bucks, who acquired him with the no. 15 pick in 2010. Milwaukee saw the mobile, athletic rim protector and screen setter as a core piece who, along with the long-limbed John Henson, would tangle the paint in thickets of swaying arms and menace.
Sanders played only 23 games in 2013–14. He used the downtime to get in touch with his various other artistic interests. Sensitive and self-aware, Sanders acknowledged that his decision to walk away from the towering piles of currency by which American culture measures merit and success would be perplexing to many people. 「People say, ‘How could you be unhappy there?’ Values and the relationships with the people I love, that’s my real riches,」 he said in a Players’ Tribune video in 2015. 「Happiness is a personal thing.」 But Sanders always left the door open for a return.
週一，多家媒體同時報導Sanders將加盟克里夫蘭騎士隊直至賽季末，合約細節尚未公佈。一旦合約被敲定，這將會是對騎士的一大利好消息，同時也給早已戰功累累的總經理David Griffin掛上了一枚嶄新的軍功章。讓我們來看看這賽季Griffin都幹了什麼好事：簽下三分機器人Kyle Korver；挖來了勒布朗曾搭檔過的最好的純控衛Deron Williams，儘管他已經今非昔比；還有第一場比賽上場58秒就不幸骨折的Andrew Bogut…… 把Bogut換成反覆無常的Sanders無疑是一場豪賭，但是潛在的回報足以讓人垂涎三尺。Sanders生涯場均將近2個火鍋，火鍋率超過7%。僅供參考，三屆最佳防守球員Dwight Howard生涯火鍋率最高的一個賽季為6%。
On Monday, various sources reported that Sanders would join the Cleveland Cavaliers for the remainder of the season. The terms, as yet, are undisclosed. If the Sanders deal pans out, this is a big win for the Cavs and yet another feather in GM David Griffin’s metaphorically plumage-laden cap. This season, Griffin has swung deals for 3-point operator Kyle Korver; Deron Williams, who, even faded and partially washed, is the best pure point guard LeBron has ever played with; and Andrew Bogut, who broke his leg 58 seconds into his very first game with the team. Following up Bogut with the mercurial Sanders is a risk, but a calculated one that could potentially pay major dividends. Sanders has averaged just under two blocks per game for his career, with a block percentage of just over 7 percent. For context, three-time Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard’s highest single-season block percentage was 6 percent.
The Cavaliers are the 22nd team in the league by defensive rating. For a squad with its sights set on another title, this is an ominous number. In the last 40 years, only three teams have won the title in a season when they were ranked outside the top 10 in defense: the 1987–88 Lakers, 1994–95 Rockets, and 2000–01 Lakers. A good sign for the Cavaliers: Those teams were all defending champions.
這三支球隊中，火箭也許最有參考價值。88年的湖人正在王朝末路上舉步維艱，甚至無比依賴已經40歲高齡的Kareem Abdul-Jabbar。2001年的湖人則打出了近年來最匪夷所思的「翻轉開關」表現，例行賽期間他們發揮不穩定，卻傲慢到不可一世，然而到了季後賽，他們突然就成了打了雞血的鬥牛犬。而1995年的火箭則不同，他們甚至需要在賽季中交易得到Clyde Drexler才能渡過難關。
Of those, the Rockets probably provide the best corollary. The ’88 Lakers were creeping toward the end of a historic run of success and leaning heavily on 40-year-old Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The 2001 Lakers were the most egregious 「flip the switch」 team in recent memory, floating through the regular season on sheer arrogance before clamping down on the postseason like a pitbull. The 1995 Rockets, meanwhile, needed to add Clyde Drexler in a midseason trade to even get over the hump.
Sanders may or may not pan out. Various reports mention that he’s out of shape. Which, yeah, the guy hasn’t played in an NBA game since December 2014. But assuming he can round into form and can deliver some significant percentage of the player he once was, Sanders is exactly what the Cavaliers need.