Alex Len

Injury Updates: Kuzma, Nene, Crabbe, Hawks

After a report earlier this week indicated that Kyle Kuzma wouldn’t be healthy for the start of the Lakers‘ training camp, the team has confirmed as much, announcing in a press release that Kuzma is rehabbing a stress reaction in his left foot.

According to the Lakers, Kuzma hasn’t been cleared to practice and is scheduled to undergo an MRI next month when the team returns from its trip to China. The second of L.A.’s two international preseason games vs. Brooklyn takes place in Shenzhen on October 12, so Kuzma’s MRI presumably won’t happen until sometime after that contest.

The Lakers provided updates on a couple more players, announcing that rookie Talen Horton-Tucker is receiving treatment for a stress reaction in his right foot and will be a limited participant in camp. Camp invitee Jordan Caroline, meanwhile, is expected to miss 10-12 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left foot earlier this month.

Horton-Tucker has a guaranteed contract and his spot on the Lakers’ roster won’t be affected by his injury, but Caroline is on a non-guaranteed deal and figures to be waived in the coming days or weeks.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • The Rockets announced today that Nene has re-aggravated a chronic adductor injury and won’t be able to participate in training camp, as David Aldridge of The Athletic relays (via Twitter). Based on the incentives in Nene’s deal, it’s unlikely he’ll play much this season anyway, but health problems would further reduce the likelihood of him seeing regular action.
  • The Hawks issued a series of injury updates on their players, including John Collins (hip strain), Kevin Huerter (knee pain), Alex Len (low back pain; left ankle sprain), and Allen Crabbe (right knee surgery). Collins, Huerter, and Chandler Parsons (load management) are expected to be somewhat limited in training camp, while Crabbe will likely miss all of camp and the preseason. Len’s status remains up in the air.
  • Keith Pompey of takes a look at the work Sixers shooting guard Zhaire Smith has put in to get healthy after missing nearly his entire rookie season due to injury and illness.

Southeast Notes: Carter, Heat, Winslow, Len

Vince Carter wants to go into broadcasting once his playing days are finished and has no desire to become an NBA coach, he told Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. One of the reasons he joined the Hawks is that he’ll be in the same city as the headquarters of TNT.

“I enjoy coaching the game, but I don’t want to be a coach,” Carter said. “I think this is another way you can coach the game, but to a different crowd. Everybody watches the game and wonder why do they do this? I can give the inside look as an NBA player on what they think about, what they’re talking about, what teams are trying to accomplish while you’re watching the game.”

The fact that NBA coaches can get fired even if they’re successful is another reason why Carter would rather be a broadcaster.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Heat are unlikely to trade for a star player during the upcoming season, though they could dump some salary to avoid the luxury tax, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel opines. The current roster doesn’t look strong enough to justify a bold move for a big-time player. Instead, it’s more likely the plan to return to prominence will center around 2020 free agency, Winderman adds.
  • The Heat ought to experiment with Justise Winslow, and Josh Richardson in various situations and positions to find out how they fit into the long-term picture, Winderman argues in another mailbag post. They could look at Winslow anywhere from a backup point to an undersized power forward. They could also take a similar approach with Richardson, even though he’s already signed an extension, Winderman adds.
  • Hawks center Alex Len will play for Ukraine’s national team in the FIBA World Cup qualifying tournament in September, according to the Ukrainian Federation. The news was tweeted by Olesandr Proshuta. Len hasn’t played for his national team since he left for the United States to play college ball at Maryland in 2011, Proshuta notes.

Contract Details: Thomas, Harris, Len, Knicks

The three-year, minimum-salary deal that Khyri Thomas signed with the Pistons looks identical to the one fellow second-rounder Bruce Brown received from the club, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders details. Both contracts include two guaranteed seasons with a non-guaranteed third year.

In giving Thomas three years instead of two, the Pistons had to once again dip into the mid-level exception. The team has now used that exception to sign Thomas, Brown, and Glenn Robinson, pushing its total MLE commitments to about $5.75MM. That figure exceeds the amount of the taxpayer mid-level, meaning Detroit will now be hard-capped at $129.817MM for the rest of the 2018/19 league year.

Teams become hard-capped when they acquire a player via sign-and-trade, use their bi-annual exception, or use more than the taxpayer portion ($5.337MM) of the mid-level exception.

Here are several more contract- and salary-related updates from Pincus:

  • Joe Harris‘ fully guaranteed two-year deal with the Nets is worth exactly $16MM, but it’s worth more in the first year ($8.33MM) than the second ($7.67MM), per Pincus.
  • The Hawks used nearly their entire room exception ($4.449MM) on Alex Len‘s two-year contract, which starts at $4.35MM. Len will earn a little less in year two, for a total value of $8.51MM (link).
  • Noah Vonleh and Kadeem Allen both signed one-year, non-guaranteed contracts with the Knicks, according to Pincus. Vonleh will be owed a $100K guarantee if he remains under contract through September 25.
  • Monte Morris‘ three-year pact with the Nuggets was originally reported as a $4.8MM deal, but Pincus classifies it as a minimum-salary contract, worth about $4.6MM. Morris received two guaranteed years, with the third-year salary set to become guaranteed if he remains under contract through June 30, 2020.
  • The Rockets and Thunder dipped into their taxpayer mid-level exceptions for rookie deals for Isaiah Hartenstein and Hamidou Diallo, respectively. Both are three-year, minimum-salary contracts, but Hartenstein only has one guaranteed year (link) while Diallo has two (link).

Southeast Notes: Len, Whiteside, Adebayo, Wall

After growing up as a Hawks fan, Alex Len hopes to revive his NBA career with his favorite team, writes Kevin L. Chouinard of A Ukrainian native, Len was attracted to the Hawks because of their connection to countryman Alexander Volkov and was happy when Atlanta expressed interest in free agency last month.

The fifth player taken in the 2013 draft, Len spent five years in Phoenix but never lived up to the Suns’ expectations. At 25, he believes he is still young enough to be part of the rebuilding plan in Atlanta.

“It’s a young team,” Len said. “I think I fit well with the guys and mesh with the young core, so for the long term I thought it would be the best team. It’s an opportunity right there. In the East, I think there’s — what, maybe four or five teams that are really good? I think we can surprise a lot of teams.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Heat center Hassan Whiteside calls the week he spent in Africa “life changing,” relays Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Whiteside was among the stars of the NBA Africa game, making all five of his shots from the field, but the week of volunteering beforehand made a larger impression. “Life changing, life changing,” he said, “from building houses with kids, from seeing kids playing basketball, from taking selfies with all the kids around the world. It’s a dream come true. I never thought that kids in Africa or anybody in Africa would know my name. It takes me back. It’s crazy.”
  • Whiteside’s performance in Africa shows he can still be effective when he’s “active and engaged,” Winderman writes in a mailbag column. Whiteside clashed with coaches over playing time last season, but Winderman states that he still has the talent to be part of the rotation, even if that forces the team to make tough choices in other areas.
  • Bam Adebayo spent a lot of time in Summer League at power forward, which may be his natural position, Winderman adds in the same piece. His playing time during the upcoming season will depend on how effectively he can operate in tandem with Whiteside or Kelly Olynyk.
  • John Wall believes the Wizards may benefit from reduced media attention heading into next season, relays Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Even after adding Dwight Howard and Austin Rivers to a talented lineup, Washington isn’t being touted in the same class with the Celtics, Sixers and Raptors. “When we were that team that was flying under the radar, we came out and showed people what we was capable of,” Wall said. “Then, when we were the team that everyone was talking about and everyone had so much high expectations for, we kind of failed those expectations.”

Hawks Sign Alex Len

AUGUST 3: The Hawks have officially signed Len, the team announced today in a press release.

JULY 21: The Hawks are finalizing a deal with former Suns center Alex Len, according to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports.

The new contract will pay Len $8.5MM over two years, sources tell Charania (Twitter link). Both seasons will be fully guaranteed, reports Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who adds that the official announcement probably won’t come until a three-way trade with the Thunder and Sixers is finalized (Twitter link).

The Hawks are over the cap after a recent flurry of moves, but still have their $4.5MM room exception available. Several teams expressed interest in Len before he decided on Atlanta, Charania relays.

Len, 25, spent five seasons in Phoenix after being selected with the fifth pick in the 2013 draft, but never made the impact the Suns were hoping for. He accepted the team’s qualifying offer last summer after finding little interest as a restricted free agent. Phoenix renounced its rights to Len on July 2, shortly after the start of free agency.

Len averaged 8.5 PPG and 7.5 RPG last season as part of a crowded center rotation in Phoenix. He will enter the same type of situation in Atlanta, where he will compete for minutes with Dewayne Dedmon, John Collins, Miles Plumlee and Omari Spellman. The Hawks will have 13 players, all with guaranteed contracts, once the latest moves become official.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Free Agent Rumors: Crawford, Ellington, Bjelica, Williams

The Sixers are interested in veteran free agent guard Jamal Crawford, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Crawford could fortify a bench that has lost Ersan Ilyasovaand Marco Belinelli since the start of free agency. Crawford, 38, averaged 10.3 PPG in 20.7 MPG for the Timberwolves last season. The Pelicans, Cavaliers, Warriors and Nuggets are also reportedly in the mix for Crawford, who opted out of his contract with Minnesota and left $4.54MM on the table.

In other news regarding the free agent market:

  • Unrestricted free agent shooting guard Wayne Ellington has drawn significant interest but he’s viewed as a good bet to re-sign with the Heat, Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports tweets. Miami has a cap hold of $8.15MM on Ellington, who appeared in 77 games and averaged 11.2 PPG in 26.5 MPG while shooting 39.2% from long range.
  • The Jazz have a strong interest in Nemanja Bjelica, Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune tweets. The Timberwolves pulled their qualifying offer to the power forward in order to sign Anthony Tolliver, thus making Bjelica an unrestricted free agent.
  • The Knicks are interested in Alan Williams if he clears waivers, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. The Suns waived the power forward/center on Monday. The Knicks have also reached out to free agent power forwards Amir Johnson and Trevor Booker, Berman adds.
  • Williams hasn’t ruled out a return to the Suns but his agent has already heard from a handful of teams interested in his services, according to Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic. Williams, who appeared in only five games last season due to a knee injury, had a non-guaranteed salary of $5.5MM for next season and will likely get through waivers.
  • The Lakers have renounced their free-agent exception rights to guard Andre Ingram and power forward Travis Wear, according to the RealGM transactions log. The Lakers had a cap hold of $1.338MM on Ingram and $1.5MM on Wear. Ingram appeared in two games with Los Angeles last season, while Wear saw action in 17 games.
  • The Suns renounced their free-agent exception rights to center Alex Len, according to the RealGM transaction log. The Suns had a $7.96MM cap hold on Len. He appeared in 69 games last season but became expendable when they drafted Deandre Ayton.

O’Connor’s Latest: LeBron, Cousins, Lakers, Wizards

Within his latest piece for The Ringer, Kevin O’Connor focuses primarily on DeMarcus Cousins‘ free agency and his possible fit with the Lakers. Along the way, he relays a few tidbits of note, so let’s dive in and round them up…

  • The Lakers are still viewed by O’Connor’s sources as the favorites to sign LeBron James, though they aren’t considered locks. O’Connor notes that some executives believe James has already decided on the Lakers and that his “indecision is all theater.”
  • According to O’Connor, James “remains interested” by the idea of playing with Cousins. If that happens, it would almost certainly be with the Lakers, since no other team has the cap room to sign both players.
  • If the Lakers make Cousins a contract offer, league sources expect it to be a one- or two-year maximum-salary deal, says O’Connor. That would allow both sides to test out the fit on a trial basis, though it might not be enough to lure Cousins away from the Pelicans if New Orleans makes a longer-term offer.
  • The Wizards are considered a possible sign-and-trade spot for Cousins, but O’Connor’s sources classify such a deal as a long shot. Alex Len is a more realistic target for Washington, O’Connor adds.

Suns Won’t Re-Sign Elfrid Payton, Alex Len

The Suns don’t intend to re-sign either Elfrid Payton or Alex Len in free agency, reports Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic (via Twitter).

Payton is eligible for restricted free agency, but with no plans to re-sign him, the Suns won’t tender Payton a $4.75MM qualifying offer, clearing the way for him to reach unrestricted free agency. As for Len, renouncing the veteran center would clear his $7.96MM cap hold from the Suns’ books, creating additional cap flexibility for the team.

Without trading or releasing any players on guaranteed contracts for 2018/19, the Suns currently project to reach approximately $18MM in cap room. That space should give the team the opportunity to make a competitive offer to one standout free agent, or to make offers to a pair of mid-level type players.

Payton, the 10th overall pick in the 2014 draft, never developed into the sort impact player the Magic hoped for. He was traded to Phoenix in a mid-season deal in 2017/18, and posted 11.8 PPG, 6.2 APG, and 5.3 RPG in 19 starts for his new team. Payton’s inability to make outside shots (.298 career 3PT%) limits his appeal.

Len, meanwhile, was a restricted free agent a year ago and signed his one-year qualifying offer with the Suns, putting himself in line for unrestricted free agency this summer. The 25-year-old, who averaged 8.5 PPG and 7.5 RPG in 2017/18, has long been expected to leave Phoenix — he said back in March that he’d “probably” end up with another team, and was looking forward to choosing his NBA home for the first time in his career.

Suns May Renounce Elfrid Payton, Alex Len, Others

The Suns are ready to make aggressive moves in free agency, but not without a little house cleaning first, according to Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic.

Look for Phoenix to maximize its cap room by shedding some unwanted salary, Bordow writes, with free agents Elfrid Payton and Alex Len both likely to be renounced. Payton’s performance was uneven after coming to the Suns in a midseason trade and he carries a $10MM cap hold. Len became expendable with the addition of No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton.

Those moves would give the team about $10MM for the free agent market, but the Suns are thinking bigger. Bordow expects them to cut ties with center Alan Williams, who has a non-guaranteed $5.52MM salary for next season. They may try to re-sign him or trade him to a team that can afford him more easily.

Other non-guaranteed contracts that might get discarded belong to Tyler Ulis ($1.54MM) and Shaquille Harrison ($1.38MM), while Davon Reed has a $1.38MM deal with a $689,212 guarantee. The deadline to decide on Ulis’ deal is tomorrow.

With up to $20MM available to chase free agents, Phoenix will focus on finding a point guard and a power forward who can defend and shoot from the outside.

Bordow lists the Clippers’ Patrick Beverley, the Celtics’ Marcus Smart, the Bulls’ Zach LaVine, the Raptors’ Fred VanVleet and the Jazz’ Dante Exum as potential backcourt targets, while Utah’s Derrick Favors, Houston’s Trevor Ariza or Luc Mbah a Moute, Milwaukee’s Jabari Parker, Indiana’s Thaddeus Young, San Antonio’s Rudy Gay or Philadelphia’s Ersan Ilyasova could fit the four spot. If the Suns find a power forward, Bordow expects them to explore trading either Dragan Bender or Marquese Chriss.

Suns Rumors: Len, House, Booker, Fizdale

As we detailed last month, fifth-year center Alex Len seems like a good bet to leave the Suns as an unrestricted free agent this summer. Len reinforced that idea this weekend by talking like a player who is preparing to move on from his current situation.

“I had a great five years here,” Len said of his time in Phoenix, per Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic. “I had ups and downs but I feel like it’s been a great time and a great learning experience with everything I’ve had thrown at me so I feel like anywhere I go or stay here from here on out I’m going to keep rising and get better.”

A year ago, Len became one of the few restricted free agents who sign a one-year qualifying offer rather than negotiating a longer-term deal with his current team or a rival club. Generally, players who take that approach don’t stick with their current club when they become eligible for unrestricted free agency a year later, so it’s not a real surprise that Len is already talking about his time with the Suns in the past tense.

Here’s more out of Phoenix:

  • While Len may be on his way out, two-way player Danuel House hopes that his recent play has shown the Suns – or another team – that he deserves a spot on an NBA roster next season, as Bordow details. “I think I’ve proven a lot,” said House, who has averaged 12.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG, and 2.8 APG in his last five games. “I’m just going to play hard, try to make the right plays, that I’m able to step up and do things for the team that they need me to. That’s my main objective to show that I belong in this league and that I deserve to be here.”
  • In a separate article for The Arizona Republic, Bordow touches on a few topics, including Devin Booker‘s upcoming extension window, T.J. Warren‘s future role, and the Suns’ coaching search. Notably, Bordow fully expects Booker to sign a max deal with the club sometime after he becomes extension-eligible on July 1.
  • The Suns are among the teams expected to show “serious interest” in former Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale, Marc Stein of The New York Times writes in his latest email newsletter. As Stein notes, James Jones has an “increasingly loud voice” in Phoenix’s front office, and Fizdale coached Jones for several years as an assistant in Miami.
  • For more Suns stories, including an explanation of how the “starter criteria” impacts Elfrid Payton and the details on the team locking up the top spot in the lottery standings, be sure to check out their team page right here.