Sanders signs four-year, $44 million extension with Bucks

The Bucks are keeping defensive stalwart Larry Sanders around with a $44 million contract extension.

MILWAUKEE -- After weeks of speculation, Larry Sanders made his four-year contract extension with the Milwaukee Bucks official by signing on the dotted line.

While the Bucks announced the signing as a multiyear extension, a league source confirmed Sanders' new deal is worth $44 million over four years. He will play out the final year of his rookie contract at $3 million next season before the extension kicks in to keep him in Milwaukee through the 2017-18 season.

"By combining his God-given ability with hard work and determination, Larry has developed into one of the top young defensive players in the league," Bucks general manager John Hammond said. "He is a very important part of what we are doing in Milwaukee, and we’re excited to announce his contract extension."

After two up-and-down seasons, Sanders burst out as one of the league's top defensive players last season. The 15th pick in the 2010 NBA draft out of Virginia Commonwealth, Sanders averaged 4.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game while playing sparingly in his first two seasons with the Bucks.

Sanders started 55 of his 71 games last season, averaging 9.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game. The 24-year-old finished second in the NBA in blocks with 201 and established himself as one of the top rim protectors in the game. Sanders finished third in the voting for the league's most improved player, finishing behind Indiana's Paul George and New Orleans' Greivis Vasquez.

Not only has Sanders developed on the court, but he's also become the team's leader off the court. Sanders was invited to attend the USA Basketball's Men's National Team minicamp in July, but a sprained ankle prevented him from participating in the majority of the event.

The Bucks had until Oct. 31 to work out a contract extension with Sanders or they would have been unable to negotiate with him until he became a restricted free agent after the season. Milwaukee was in a similar situation with Brandon Jennings last offseason and didn't reach a deal prior to the deadline.

"It's official..can't believe I've been granted this opportunity to represent Milwaukee for the next 5 years and hopefully the rest of my career," Sanders tweeted out. "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..see you in the BC!!!"

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