Alex Len

Raptors Notes: Lineup Changes, Powell, Flynn, Attendance

The smaller lineups that Raptors coach Nick Nurse experimented with Friday could become permanent, writes Steven Loung of Sportsnet. Toronto picked up just its second win of the season as center Alex Len started for the first time since joining the team, taking the place of Aron Baynes. However most of the playing time in the middle went to Chris Boucher, with OG Anunoby filling in there as well.

Baynes has been “underachieving” since signing with the Raptors in the offseason, according to Loung. The veteran center is averaging just 5.3 points and 5.7 rebounds through his first seven games. Nurse liked how the smaller group responded and indicated that he may stick with it.

“I think the biggest thing is playing small, it does a number of things for us, but the biggest thing it does for us is it enables us to switch all the pick-and-rolls which, late in games, that’s going down pretty much at both ends, it’s pick-and-roll basketball,” Nurse said. “And then secondly, it almost puts OG and Pascal (Siakam) in the handling and screening situations, which, you know, OG is a good screener and finisher in that stuff.”

There’s more on the Raptors:

  • Friday marked the second start of the season for shooting guard Norman Powell, Loung adds in the same story. Powell scored 22 points while filling in for Kyle Lowry, who missed the game for personal reasons. “Yeah, I would. I would,” Nurse responded when asked whether he would consider making Powell a full-time starter. “He’s had two really good games as a starter and I would hate to count how many not-so-good games coming off the bench. So I would consider that at this point.”
  • Lowry’s absence gave rookie point guard Malachi Flynn his first chance at extended playing time, notes Chris O’Leary of NBA.com. Flynn, who showed promise during the preseason, responded with 12 points, five rebounds and two assists in 17 minutes. “I’m going to stay confident regardless, but having a game like this definitely helps,” Flynn said. “So just continue to have that mindset of being confident and hopefully have more games like this.” 
  • The Raptors won’t have fans at their temporary home in Tampa, Florida, until at least February 5, according to The Associated Press. Vinik Sports Group, which owns Amalie Arena, made the announcement today because COVID-19 cases in the region have “risen sharply.”

Raptors Notes: Bembry, Len, Ibaka, Siakam

In a new exchange, Eric Koreen and Chris Kirschner of The Athletic discuss what recently-added Raptors players DeAndre’ Bembry and Alex Len will bring to Toronto.

Kirschner notes that Bembry was available to the Raptors because his offensive game stagnated in Atlanta, and the team did not have enough confidence in his health or in his potential to become a standout defender. The swingman was the No. 21 selection by the Hawks in the 2016 draft out of Saint Joseph’s.

Len, meanwhile, can provide solid rim protection and occasional jump shooting in a limited role as the Raptors’ new backup center behind expected starter Aron Baynes, also a fresh signing.

There’s more out of Toronto:

  • Len is excited to join a playoff-caliber club for the first time in his career, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets. “When Toronto reached out I just jumped on board,” Len said of his joining the Raptors. “It wasn’t about the money, just the opportunity to play for a top-notch, great organization.”
  • Clippers power forward/center Serge Ibaka anticipated a return to the Raptors in the offseason, according to Eric Koreen of The Athletic (Twitter link). After a meeting with team president Masai Ujiri and GM Bobby Webster when his free agency commenced, Ibaka became more open to going in a different direction. “It was not an easy decision to make,” he said. “They made me better as a player. The organization (challenged) me to be a better person, on or off the court.”
  • After a breakout season that saw him make his first All-Star team, Raptors forward Pascal Siakam is hoping his play this season will quiet his doubters following a disappointing performance during the NBA’s Orlando restart, according to The Athletic’s Eric Koreen“I think when I watched the games (from the bubble), one of the things that I really felt was I didn’t recognize myself in terms of just, like, having fun,” Siakam said. “I’m always somebody that has fun playing the game and I love this game and I don’t never want to be able to play the game without any joy.”

Free Agency Rumors: Bogdanovic, McLaughlin, Baynes, More

The Kings will have to make a decision on Bogdan Bogdanovic‘s offer sheet with the Hawks on Tuesday, and as Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee writes, there are pros and cons the team must consider as it weighs its options.

Matching Bogdanovic’s four-year, $72MM offer sheet would mean not losing him for nothing, and the contract doesn’t look particularly onerous — it’s unlikely that it will become an albatross within the next year. Bogdanovic would have veto power on any trade for the next year if Sacramento matches his offer, and the deal includes a 15% trade kicker, but there’s a good chance the club could eventually move him for positive value.

Still, while the Kings had originally budgeted for a $15-18MM annual salary for Bogdanovic under former GM Vlade Divac, per Anderson, the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the salary cap coming in $6MM lower than anticipated may make the team nervous about a long-term deal at the upper end of that range.

Additionally, sources have suggested to Anderson that Bogdanovic would prefer a change of scenery and that the swingman feels he has been “de-prioritized” by the Kings. Sacramento already may have to deal with one disgruntled wing in Buddy Hield — carrying two of them, and having them eat into each other’s minutes, may not be an ideal situation for the club.

Here are a few more notes and rumors related to free agency:

  • The Timberwolves and restricted free agent guard Jordan McLaughlin are engaged in ongoing talks about a new contract, a source tells Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. McLaughlin was on a two-way deal last season as a rookie, but is due for a promotion to a standard contract after averaging 7.6 PPG and 4.2 APG on .489/.382/.667 shooting in 30 games (19.7 MPG).
  • Before he committed to the Raptors, free agent center Aron Baynes gave serious consideration to joining the Warriors, a league source tells Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.
  • Alex Len, another center who agreed to a deal with Toronto, generated interest from the Lakers, Sixers, Bucks, and Kings during free agency, according to Scotto. The Raptors used their mid-level exception to give Len slightly more than his minimum salary.
  • The Hawks and Pistons were among the teams that expressed interest in Damyean Dotson before the free agent guard committed to Cleveland, reports Scotto. Dotson’s two-year, $4MM deal with the Cavaliers is worth more than the minimum and the club is still weighing whether to use its mid-level exception or bi-annual exception to complete the signing, tweets Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.

Raptors Sign Alex Len To One-Year Deal

NOVEMBER 26: Len has officially signed with the Raptors, per the NBA’s transactions log.


NOVEMBER 23: The Raptors will add veteran big man Alex Len to their center rotation, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium (Twitter link). Len will presumably compete with Chris Boucher for backup minutes behind Aron Baynes, another new addition.

Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (via Twitter) reports that Len will sign a one-year contract.

After using most of their mid-level exception on the two-year, $14.3MM Baynes signing, the Raptors will use the leftover portion of their MLE to sign Len, per Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link). As a result, he’ll earn about $2.32MM instead of a minimum salary of $2.17MM.

Drafted with the fifth pick by Phoenix in 2013, the oft-traveled Len signed with the Hawks during his first crack at free agency in 2018, for a two-year, $8.5MM contract. Atlanta dealt Len to the Kings in a package for Dewayne Dedmon and two future second-rounders at the 2019/20 trade deadline.

The 27-year-old seven-footer holds efficient career averages of 8.0 PPG, 6.3 RPG, and 1.0 BPG in 19.6 MPG across his seven NBA seasons.

Toronto saw its top two centers, veterans Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol, walk in free agency. The Raptors have moved quickly to piece together a respectable rotation of big men to replace them — including incumbent RFA Boucher.

The 33-year-old Baynes is a competent defender who has recently developed into a perimeter shooting threat, while the lankier Boucher became an intriguingly athletic rotation piece last season. Len provides a big body in the post to threaten players at the rim. Though they lack the two-way versatility or passing of their predecessors, this triumvirate may be able to replace a decent amount of their output.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Updates: Crawford, Muscala, Baynes, MKG, Len

The last time Jamal Crawford appeared in an NBA game, on April 9, 2019, he poured in 51 points. His return to action today for the Nets wasn’t quite as successful.

After being cleared to play for the shorthanded Nets against Milwaukee, Crawford came off the bench and racked up five points and three assists in six minutes, but the veteran guard was forced to leave the game early after suffering a left hamstring injury (Twitter link via team).

It’s not clear yet whether the injury is a minor one that Crawford could return from soon, or if it may jeopardize his availability for the remainder of the season. We’re hoping for the former, but we’ll have to wait for an update from the Nets, who have had some awful health luck this summer.

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

  • Thunder big man Mike Muscala suffered a concussion during Monday’s loss to Denver and has been placed in the league’s concussion protocol, the club announced today in a press release. Muscala has played limited minutes (12.6 MPG) for Oklahoma City this season, so his absence won’t have a major impact on the team’s rotation.
  • Suns center Aron Baynes, who joined the team late after recovering from the coronavirus, remains unavailable for Tuesday’s game vs. the Clippers, tweets Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. “(He) had a really light practice yesterday,” head coach Monty Williams said. “Didn’t do much on the court at all. 3-on-3, 4-on-4, 5-on-5. So (he won’t play) at this point.”
  • A pair of players were active for the first time this summer in Tuesday afternoon’s Mavericks/Kings game. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was cleared to play for the Mavs (Twitter link via Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News), while Alex Len was available for Sacramento (Twitter link via team). Both players arrived late to the Orlando campus — Kidd-Gilchrist for personal reasons and Len due to COVID-19.

Pacific Notes: Payne, Lecque, Kokoskov, Len

Cameron Payne recalls a brief conversation during his rookie year with Thunder assistant Monty Williams that led to his latest NBA opportunity, writes Gina Mizell in her Valley Tales Newsletter. Williams, now the head coach of the Suns, decided to take a chance on Payne when the team had a roster spot to fill prior to the restart.

“That (discussion) played into … my talks with (general manager James Jones about signing him),” Williams said. “I saw a young man who’s really talented, comes from a really good family and he takes coaching well.”

Payne’s career has featured a lot of disappointment after Oklahoma City made him a lottery pick in 2015. He battled through injuries and ineffective performance with the Thunder and Bulls, and had been out of the league since signing a pair of 10-day contracts with the Cavaliers last January. He had a brief stay in China this season, then joined the G League to help get his game back on track.

“I don’t want to see myself outside of this league again,” Payne said. “And the biggest way for me to do that is to be consistent, be on time and outwork the next guy. My whole thing is I want to leave on the court that I played my hardest. I gave my all. I never want to take no shortcuts anymore, because it’s not worth it. It’s not worth being on the outside looking in when you feel like you should be in there.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Jalen Lecque participated in practice Saturday, giving the Suns a full roster for the first time since arriving in Orlando, Mizell tweets.
  • Assistant Igor Kokoskov left the Kings Saturday to begin his duties as head coach of Fenerbahce in the EuroLeague, the team announced in a press release. The former Suns head coach joined Luke Walton’s staff last summer. “I’d like to congratulate Igor on his promotion to head coach of Fenerbahce and thank him for his dedicated time with the Kings,” Walton said. “He has been a valuable member of my coaching staff and his natural ability to guide our players will continue to inspire the team as we move forward in Orlando. We wish him all the best.” 
  • Kings center Alex Len won’t play in Sunday’s game against the Magic because of conditioning issues, tweets Sean Cunningham of KXTV. Len was late reporting to the Walt Disney World campus after contracting COVID-19.

Pacific Notes: Kings, Len, LeBron, Williams, Warriors

The Kings, who previously furloughed some employees starting on June 1, have now laid off some staffers as well, according to Sean Cunningham of ABC10 Sacramento (Twitter links). According to Cunningham, no members of the Kings’ basketball operations department were part of this week’s layoffs.

Cunningham estimates that about 100 employees within the organization were impacted by the earlier furloughs. And based on a statement from John Rinehart, the Kings’ president of business operations, it sounds like a portion of those workers have now been laid off.

“As part of the organization’s ongoing evolution of efforts to align with the changes in our business, we have made the difficult decision to transition a portion of previously furloughed full-time roles to a reduction in workforce effective July 31 and extend the furlough period for the remaining segment of previously furloughed employees to tentatively November 1 due to continued uncertainty surrounding the resumption of live events at Golden 1 Center resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Rinehart said, per Cunningham.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Kings center Alex Len, who reported to the NBA campus late after a bout with COVID-19, will likely miss the team’s first summer game on Friday, head coach Luke Walton said today (Twitter link via James Ham of NBC Sports California). However, it shouldn’t be too much longer before Len is ready to go.
  • Within an ESPN.com piece about the Lakers‘ unusual 2019/20 season, Dave McMenamin suggests that LeBron James wasn’t thrilled about Lakers players being asked last fall to address the NBA/China controversy before commissioner Adam Silver or Rockets GM Daryl Morey did. Morey’s tweet supporting Hong Kong protestors instigated that dispute between the league and its Chinese partners.
  • Lou Williams‘ violation of the NBA’s protocols means he’s serving a 10-day quarantine and missing at least two seeding games, but his Clippers teammates and head coach Doc Rivers have Williams’ back, as Mark Medina of USA Today writes. “Lou’s one of the most-liked guys in the whole organization and is always trying to get everyone together on the road,” center Ivica Zubac said. “Lou is a true leader. The fact that everyone is coming to the defense of him speaks everything about him.”
  • Anthony Slater of The Athletic takes a deep dive into James Wiseman‘s potential fit with the Warriors, pointing out that if Golden State does end up using its top-five pick this fall, it will represent an opportunity to secure a long-term building block — not just a role player who can fit in with the current core.

Pacific Notes: Zubac, Okobo, Len, Barnes, Holmes

Center Ivica Zubac, who has recovered from COVID-19, played 13 minutes in the Clippers’ third Orlando scrimmage on Monday and appears ready for the league restart, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times writes. Zubac, who signed a four-year, $28.5MM contract last summer, contributed two points and six rebounds during his short stint.

“I don’t care how much you work out, a basketball game, an NBA basketball game is different and so you get winded,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. “But I thought he did what Zub does, he clogged up the paint, he rolled for us, he did a lot of good things.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Suns guard Elie Okobo participated in practice on Monday, Gina Mizell tweets. Okobo’s arrival in Orlando was delayed due to undisclosed reasons. He has extra incentive to perform well in the restart, as his $1.66MM salary for next season is not guaranteed.
  • Kings center Alex Len‘s status for the team’s opening game at the Orlando campus remains uncertain, James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets. Len rejoined the club approximately 10 days ago after he recovered from his own bout with COVID-19. He has yet to go through a full contact session, Ham adds.
  • Big man Richaun Holmes and forward Harrison Barnes participated in the Kings’ final scrimmage on Monday, Ham notes. Holmes, who had to serve a 10-day quarantine after violating league protocols, had six points and five rebounds in 18 minutes. Barnes, who overcame a battle with the coronavirus, finished with 12 points and six rebounds in 21 minutes.

Pacific Notes: Morris Twins, Barnes, Suns, Noah, More

There are a few players who showed up on the list of official rosters released on Monday by the NBA who still haven’t reported to the Walt Disney World campus. However, more players continue to arrive by the day.

According to Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register (Twitter link), Clippers forward Marcus Morris is at the team’s Tuesday morning practice today, having reported to the campus and cleared his quarantine period. His twin brother Markieff Morris will be joining the Lakers soon, Marcus tells Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link). Dave McMenamin of ESPN tweets that Markieff is expected to arrive at the campus today and will begin his initial quarantine.

Meanwhile, Kings forward Harrison Barnes, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, could depart for Orlando as soon as today if he returns one more negative coronavirus test, Spears reports (via Twitter).

Finally, Ricky Rubio, Aron Baynes, Elie Okobo, and Jalen Lecque didn’t make the initial trip to Orlando two weeks ago with the Suns and still hadn’t practiced with the club as of Sunday, sources tell Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. A pair of Suns players tested positive for the coronavirus nearly a month ago, but it’s not clear if any or all of the delayed arrivals are related to COVID-19.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Kings forward Jabari Parker and center Alex Len spoke to reporters on Monday about their experiences with COVID-19, as Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee details. Len, who said he temporarily lost his sense of smell and taste while dealing with the virus, tested positive for 24 consecutive days before eventually returning multiple negative tests and being cleared.
  • Clippers big man Joakim Noah has benefited from the NBA’s hiatus, which gave him more time to get fully healthy after suffering an Achilles injury, writes Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. Noah’s new teammates are impressed by what they’ve seen so far from the veteran center. “He’s just bringing that energy every day,” guard Rodney McGruder said. “That’s something that I’m learning from him, and it’s just the intensity and just the persistence that he plays with on the defensive end, how you always hear his voice. He’s always yelling, he’s always talking.”
  • Ethan Strauss of The Athletic identifies the wings in this year’s draft class that he thinks would fit best with the Warriors, including Isaac Okoro, Aaron Nesmith, and Saddiq Bey.

Pacific Notes: Howard, Baynes, Rubio, Len, Barnes

Lakers center Dwight Howard has been disciplined for not wearing a mask at Orlando’s campus, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin writes. Howard said on social media that the violation was reported to the NBA Campus Hotline, designed to ensure everyone is following protocols. “(My) reaction is that we all should be wearing masks in and around the hotel lobby,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said of Howard’s violation. “And the areas that we’re being asked to wear a mask, we should wear a mask. And he’s doing so now.”

We have more from around the Pacific Division:

  • It remains a mystery whether Ricky Rubio and Aron Baynes are practicing with their Suns teammates in Orlando, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Coach Monty Williams has been vague when asked about the duo’s status. “There’s so much medical stuff that I don’t want to violate,” Williams said.
  • Kings center Alex Len has posted negative tests for the coronavirus and will rejoin the team on Friday evening, head coach Luke Walton told James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area and other media members. Len, among a couple of other prominent team members, tested positive for the virus in late June. Len will go into quarantine upon arrival in Orlando and Walton is unsure about the big man’s conditioning.
  • Walton is in no rush to replace Harrison Barnes on the roster, The Athletic’s Jason Jones tweets. Barnes revealed that he tested positive for COVID-19 just before the team headed to Orlando. The Kings don’t want to replace Barnes on the roster just yet, even if he has to miss a game, Jones adds.