PHOENIX — With a nine-day layoff ahead because of the NBA All-Star break, the Phoenix Suns will err on the side of caution with starting center Alex Len.
A sprained right ankle suffered during a loss at the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday will “more than likely” mean “he’s probably out through the All-Star break,” according to coach Jeff Hornacek.
“They would try to maybe look at Tuesday, but that doesn’t make a lot of sense to throw him in there and then re-aggravate it and then be out,” Hornacek said.
Len turned the ankle when he landed awkwardly after Robin Lopez fouled him as he finished an alley-oop slam on a pass from Eric Bledsoe. Len made the free throw to complete the three-point play before being replaced by Miles Plumlee at the 8:04 mark of the third quarter.
Len missed the Suns’ game against the Utah Jazz on Friday — replaced in the starting lineup by Plumlee — and is expected to sit out Sunday at the Sacramento Kings and Tuesday against the Houston Rockets, the team’s last game before the All-Star break.
Len said he understood the team’s cautious approach.
“I’m going to listen to our training staff, the best in the business,” he said. “They tell me, ‘hold off.’
“It’s actually perfect timing because the All-Star break is coming up. I’m going to have time to get it right.”
Before Friday, Len had played all 51 games this season, a great sign given his rookie campaign was slowed due to surgery on both ankles after the Suns made him the No. 5 overall pick of the 2013 NBA Draft.
Len is averaging 6.2 points per game, and his six rebounds per contest are tied with Markieff Morris for team-high honors. Since entering the starting lineup, Len improved his production to 7.1 points and 7.3 rebounds in 26 games.
“(The ankle) actually feels great. I have no limp, so it’s good news,” Len said.
For a moment, Len said he feared the worst when the injury occurred.
“When I saw the picture (of the ankle), somebody showed me the picture, it looked nasty, so I was like, ‘Oh, gosh, not again,'” he said.
“We did the X-rays and everything looks great and today did an MRI. Everything looks awesome. I’m blessed it’s nothing but just a sprained ankle.”