Alex Len did not have any inside knowledge that the Phoenix Suns were pursuing or planning to sign veteran center Tyson Chandler.
As he told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Tuesday morning, he found out when everyone else did.
And he was totally cool with it.
“My thoughts on that, I think he’s a good addition to the team,” the third-year pro said. “I think he’s a great veteran so someone who we really needed last year. So I think he’s a great addition to the team.”
The 22-year-old Len averaged 6.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 69 games last season, 44 of which he started. Many believed that performance set him up to be the team’s starter again this season and into the future, but the team did not give Chandler a four-year, $52 million contract for him to come off the bench.
You have to figure Chandler will start, while Len will return to a reserve role. That idea may not be one a former No. 5 overall pick just two years ago would appreciate, but Len sees the addition of Chandler — a former All-Star as well as NBA Defensive Player of the Year — as a positive for his own career.
“I think he’s going to be a great mentor for me,” he said. “All-Star caliber big, I can learn a lot from him just from being around him. So I think it’s going to be good for me and the team.”
Last week, when Chandler was officially signed and introduced to the Valley media, he said one of his priorities in Phoenix will be teaching Len, imparting as much wisdom on the young center as he can.
“I’m really looking forward to mentoring and working with Alex Len, I think he’s an incredible young player,” Chandler said, before adding he saw him the day before the press conference. “I felt like we will have a good future together. He has a lot of potential, and I think the combination of the two of us will bring a lot of size in the West, which is really needed.”
Size, you say? Chandler is a mountain of a man at 7-foot-1 and 240 pounds, while Len is listed at 7-foot-1 and 260 pounds.
In many ways, Len is a classic big man. He is solid in the low post, rebounds and blocks shots. But a new wrinkle to his game appears to be a jump shot, which apparently now extends to the 3-point line. He has attempted just three shots from beyond the arc in his brief NBA career, making one of them.
“Just trying to expand my game,” Len said, before adding he’s hoping to get some chances to show off his range during the Las Vegas Summer League.
If Len can prove to be consistent from deep, that would in theory open up opportunities for he and Chandler to be on the court at the same time. Suns coach Jeff Hornacek has hinted at the possibility, which is one Len would be open to.
“I haven’t thought about it yet, it’s up to Coach,” he said. “But I would love to.”