Larry Sanders will face a five-game suspension for testing positive for marijuana use. (Mike McGinnis/Getty Images Sport)
Amazingly, Bucks center Larry Sanders has found yet another way to tarnish his wretched post-payday season. After complaining publicly over his lack of playing time, facing a six-week absence and trouble with the authorities due to his role in a bar fight, seeing his previous animal cruelty charges come to light, struggling on the court, getting into it with then-Buck Gary Neal in front of onlooking media members and subsequently suffering an unfortunate, season-ending injury, Sanders has capped off his 2013-14 season with a five-game suspension incurred for violation of the league's Anti-Drug Program.
“I apologize to the entire Bucks organization and our fans for being suspended five games for using marijuana in violation of the NBA Anti-Drug Program," Sanders said in an official statement. "I take full responsibility for my actions.”
In order to earn such a suspension, Sanders had to have failed three separate drug tests within a given period. A five-game suspension is standard when a player registers three positive tests for marijuana use. A player who tests positive for performance-enhancing drugs, on the other hand, would receive a 20-game suspension on first violation.
Due to the fact that Sanders is already set to miss the remainder of this season after having his orbital bone surgically repaired, his five game suspension will need be served upon his return next year. His woes will spill over, it seems, though Milwaukee is undoubtedly hoping for a less eventful season from the center they chose to invest in with a four-year, $44 million extension last August.
Sanders was ultimately able to play some solid basketball just prior to his season-ending injury, though greater concerns over his quick temper remain. If there's a fine line between expressive and explosive, Sanders didn't much notice it as he streaked past -- screaming and gesturing wildly. Nothing as of yet has been able to rein him in. Last season Sanders had more ejections than any other player in the league and more technical fouls than all but two, despite averaging just 27.3 minutes per game. This year his total number of technical fouls doesn't much stand up to the league leaders, though he nonetheless ranks second overall in technical fouls per minute. Had Sanders played 82 games at his season average of 25.4 minutes per game, he would have been on pace to total 21 techs for the year -- the most since Rasheed Wallace posted that same number in 2006-07.
That's a problem, as it is when Sanders can't be trusted to cut back on the smoking after two failed drug tests or do something as simple as not throw bottles at people. Milwaukee has $44 million riding on the idea that Sanders can be both a better basketball player and a more mature person than he's been. There's time yet, though the few months since Sanders' new deal seem only to support the contrary.