With roughly seven minutes remaining in the second quarter and the Thunder leading 26-17, Sanders and Adams mixed it up in the paint during an Oklahoma City possession. Sanders used his right forearm to hold Adams out of the basket area, and Adams responded by reaching out with his right arm to shove Sanders away. Sanders then responded by extending his right arm to Adams' head, and Adams again shoved him to clear some space. Finally, Sanders appeared to intentionally swing his right elbow into Adams' head, drawing a flagrant foul for his action.
The flagrant foul 2 designation applies to contact that is deemed both "unnecessary and excessive" by the officials and it requires an immediate ejection. Sanders departed with zero points (on 0-f0r-1 shooting) and four rebounds in seven minutes.
A bad year continues to get worse for Sanders, 25, who inked a four-year, $44 million rookie contract extension in August and hasn’t been able to escape the negative headlines since. In October, Sanders’ former agent sued his current representation for alleged client poaching prior to Sanders’ new deal. In November, Sanders and new Bucks coach Larry Drew reportedly didn’t see eye-to-eye about Sanders’ role.
Shortly after that news broke, Sanders was involved in a late-night nightclub incident which left him with a torn ligament in his thumb. Sanders was later cited by police for his role in the incident, which allegedly involved throwing champagne bottles, and previous animal cruelty charges against Sanders also came to light.
The thumb injury required surgery, costing Sanders 25 games, and he returned to the court on Dec. 27. The fourth-year center is averaging 6.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game, and Milwaukee is now 1-7 since his return. Sanders and teammate Gary Neal were recently involved in a post-game argument in front of media members. Neal reportedly told Sanders to try earning his money.
After signing his new contract, Sanders acknowledged that he was being entrusted with a leadership role on a rebuilt Bucks team, and he said that he looked forward to “represent[ing] Milwaukee” for the duration of his new deal.
“Can’t believe I’ve been granted this opportunity to represent Milwaukee for the next five years and hopefully the rest of my career,” Sanders wrote on Instagram. “Words can not explain my gratitude for the Bucks organization and the faith in me as a leader and a worker. I won’t let you down Mil-town.”
Back in early December, Sanders was named to The Point Forward’s Eastern Conference All-Letdown Team.
Milwaukee now has the NBA's worst record at 7-29.
Oklahoma City improved to 28-9. Video via YouTube user Jason Damiano