Larry Sanders (right) is averaging 2.7 points and 3.7 rebounds this season. (Mike McGinnis/Getty Images Sport)
The Bucks announced Monday that center Larry Sanders will be sidelined for roughly six weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb.
Sanders, 24, suffered the injury during an off-court incident earlier this month. The fourth-year center reportedly got into a late-night altercation at "Apartment 720," a Milwaukee nightclub. Police investigated the incident but Sanders was not charged.
A six-week recovery timeline will keep Sanders off the court until roughly Christmas. If he returns in exactly six weeks, Sanders will be sidelined for Milwaukee's next 23 games. Sanders has not played since the incident took place on Nov. 2, and Milwaukee is off to a 2-3 start. Without Sanders, coach Larry Drew has started Zaza Pachulia at center alongside forwards John Henson and Caron Butler.
On Friday, Sanders issued an apology for his role in the incident, which kept him out of practices and two games last week.
"I put myself in a bad situation over the weekend," Sanders told reporters. "Didn't make the best decisions down the stretch. I'd like to apologize to our fans here, [Bucks owner Herb] Kohl, who I will take to directly. I've talked to the team and I've apologized to them, just for shedding a negative light on our team, on our organization. It's not what we're about at all, it's not who we are, it's not what we stand for. I offer my apologies to everyone, especially the fans. They put a lot on me and count on me a lot, for everybody I let down, I'm going to get better, I'm going to be better."
After agreeing to a four-year, $48 million extension in August, Sanders acknowledged 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 after signing his new deal. “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.”
Milwaukee's 620WTMJ.com reported that sources alleged that Sanders was the instigator in the incident, and that he allegedly was throwing champagne bottles. Milwaukee's Fox6Now.com reports that a 26-year-old man was injured in the incident after he was allegedly hit by a bottle.
The surgery is just the latest round of bad news for Sanders, who is averaging just 2.7 points and 3.7 rebounds in three appearances. In addition to the nightclub incident, Sanders has expressed frustration at sitting on the bench late in games under Drew. In October, Sanders' former agent sued his current representation for alleged client poaching prior to Sanders' rookie contract extension agreement.
The 2010 first-round pick out of Virginia Commonwealth started 55 games for Milwaukee last season, averaging 9.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks while establishing a reputation as one of the NBA’s most fearless and physically gifted interior defenders. Sanders finished second in the league in blocks per game and placed seventh in the 2013 Defensive Player of the Year voting.
Sanders was among the league leaders in technical fouls last season and he’s been ejected on numerous occasions during his career, including a memorable incident in March when he flashed the “thumbs up” sign to all three referees on his way off of the court. Sanders was also fined $50,000 for publicly criticizing the officiating after a loss to the Heat.