PHOENIX, Ariz. — There are only nine days before the start of the regular season and Phoenix Suns second-year center Alex Len has yet to see a single minute of action in the preseason.
That’s expected to change soon, perhaps as early as Tuesday.
The Suns play the Los Angeles Lakers in Anaheim before closing out the seven-game preseason schedule at the Clippers Wednesday and at Utah Friday.
“I want to get maybe one or two games in before the season,” Len said. “It’s important for my conditioning. Game and practice are two different things.”
Len has been sidelined since Oct. 6 when his right pinky finger was hit by rookie point guard Tyler Ennis, causing a new fracture of the same bone he broke three months earlier in the Suns’ Las Vegas Summer League opener.
After sitting out a week-and-a-half, Len was cleared to resume basketball activity. He rejoined his teammates for practice on Monday.
“He had a lot of energy today,” head coach Jeff Hornacek said. “The first time he got out there in the scrimmage, he got a fast break layup. He was flying. We said, ‘way to run, Alex.’ He goes, ‘yeah, I haven’t done anything for two weeks. I had a lot of energy.’
“He did a nice job today.”
The plan, according to Hornacek, is to see how the finger responds before deciding whether or not Len plays against the Lakers.
“Right now, I think the plan was maybe wait,” Hornacek said, “but some time in one of these three games. But the way he (played) did today if it feels good tomorrow, then I don’t see why not.”
Len practiced with his pinky and ring finger taped with some gauze in-between to help cushion any blows to the area.
“I got hit a few times,” he said. “It was a little sore, but nothing bad so this protection works.”
Len admitted to favoring the finger on occasion, especially on box outs. Catching the ball is not an issue, though shooting — with three fingers — is a bit bothersome.
“This thing is not the most comfortable on the hand, but I’m getting used to it,” he said.
Len said he spent the time he was out watching film, making sure he stayed on top of the new offensive and defensive sets installed in practice. He also worked on his conditioning, running on the side while the team practiced.
As the tallest player on the team, Len is being counted on to provide some much-needed length on an undersized roster.
“Makes us look a lot bigger,” Hornacek said. “When he’s not out there and you’re filling in with (Shavlik Randolph) or somebody. That’s only a 6-9, 6-10 guy and when you stick a 7-1 guy out there, all of a sudden you became a bigger team.
“Yeah, we need him to be out there.”