MILWAUKEE (AP) The Bucks waived center Larry Sanders, a troubled center once considered a franchise cornerstone.
Sanders had been sidelined since Dec. 23 for what was first termed as an illness. He was suspended by the NBA on Jan. 16 for at least 10 games for violating the league's substance abuse policy. He ended up serving a 12-game suspension.
The team made the move Saturday night. The 6-foot-11 center was inactive for the team's first game back from the All-Star break on Friday, an 89-81 win over Denver. Milwaukee was 17-8 since Dec. 23 without Sanders.
The Bucks, one of the surprise teams in the NBA, have played well defensively without the threat of the shot-blocker in the paint.
''But it's the next guy up, and we've been playing without him for a while now, so I don't know if it was that much of a distraction, you would have to ask'' the team,'' Coach Jason Kidd said before Sunday's game against Atlanta. ''But I think guys have been playing at a very high level without him here.''
Sanders has had a stormy time in Milwaukee since signing a four-year, $44 million contract extension before the 2013-14 season.
He needed surgery on his right thumb after a nightclub scuffle the first weekend of the 2013-14 season. He also missed time last year for a fractured orbital bone and was suspended for five games for breaking the league's substance abuse guidelines. Sanders said in April that suspension was for marijuana.
The five-year veteran leaves Milwaukee having averaged 6.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks.
''It's business. That's just the nature of this. It happens,'' Kidd said. ''We wish Larry the best with moving forward and hopefully everything works out.''
Kidd said John Henson would remain the starter at center. Veteran Zaza Pachulia has played well this year. Also, Miles Plumlee was acquired from Phoenix last week as part of a deal that sent guard Brandon Knight to the Suns.