Alex Len

Free Agent Stock Watch: Eastern Conference

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. With the playoffs in full swing, we take a look at players from the Eastern Conference:

Elfrid Payton, Knicks, 27, PG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $4.77MM deal in 2020

Payton’s postseason role was reduced to something rarely seen in any sport – the starting lineup cameo. He played a few ineffective minutes, then never returned to the court for two games until coach Tom Thibodeau completely gave up on him. Payton started regularly all season but his post-All-Star break woes drove Knicks fans nuts. They won’t have to worry about a repeat – Payton will be an unrestricted free agent. Payton has been a starter throughout his career but it’s hard to imagine him getting much more than the veteran’s minimum to fill out someone’s bench next season.

Evan Fournier, Celtics, 28, SF (Down) – Signed to a five-year, $85MM deal in 2016

Fournier was the biggest acquisition the Celtics made at the trade deadline and they leaned on him heavily against the Nets with Jaylen Brown sidelined. Fournier averaged 15.4 PPG on 43.3% shooting from 3-point range in 33.4 MPG. Solid numbers, but he’s not the type of player who can carry a team. Fournier is expected to seek a contract similar to the one he signed with the Magic five seasons ago but is he really a $17MM a year player? There’s a general sense that Fournier may have to settle for the mid-level exception or something slightly above that figure.

Duncan Robinson, Heat, 27, SF (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $3MM deal in 2018

Robinson pumped in 24 points in Game 1 against the Bucks, then petered out the rest of the series. That won’t hurt him in restricted free agency. The Heat have to make a lot of tough decisions this offseason – one of them will be how big an offer sheet they’d be willing to match to retain Robinson. First, they’ll have to extend a $4.7MM qualifying offer but that’s a formality. During last season’s playoff run to the Finals, Robinson averaged 11.7 PPG. He’s a career 42.3% 3-point shooter and he’ll be looking for a big payday after playing on a rookie contract.

Alex Len, Wizards, 27, C (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $1.7MM deal in 2020

Len has passed through a handful of organizations over the past four seasons. He’ll be on the move again as an unrestricted free agent. Len received 40 regular-season starts from the injury-depleted Wizards after getting waived by the Raptors. His playing time shrunk throughout the first-round series against Philadelphia – he played a grand total of three minutes in the last two games. Whether or not Thomas Bryant can effectively return from his knee injury next season, Washington needs to upgrade its frontcourt. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Ukranian-born Len explores European options.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Wizards Notes: Len, Gafford, Neto, Brooks

After eight years in the NBA, Wizards center Alex Len is finally ready for his playoff debut, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Len has the longest active streak with no postseason appearances, and it’s a distinction that he’s eager to get rid of.

“The play-ins kind of felt like the playoffs,” he said. “Every possession counts. You could feel the intensity was way higher than the regular season. It’s just probably the most exciting part of my career.”

It didn’t look like Len was headed to the playoffs when he arrived in D.C. in January. The Wizards were far out of the race when they claimed him off waivers after he had been cut loose by the Raptors. He turned out to be a valuable addition in the wake of a season-ending injury to starting center Thomas Bryant.

“When I came here, it was probably at the bottom or the second-worst team in the East,” Len said. “Then, climbing all the way back and making the eighth seed, it was a lot of fun. We battled through and guys stuck together.”

There’s more on the Wizards:

  • Daniel Gafford is another member of Washington’s center rotation who is happy to be in the playoffs, Hughes writes in a separate story. Gafford spent his first season and a half with the Bulls before the Wizards acquired him at the trade deadline. “I was overwhelmed with a lot of emotion after (beating the Pacers in the play-in tournament),” he said. “I had to kind of just hold it in. … I would say this trade was the best thing that could have happened to me.”
  • Raul Neto is looking forward to facing his former team in a playoff setting, Hughes notes in another piece. Neto was a back-up point guard for the Sixers last season, and he believes that familiarity will be an asset for the Wizards. “I know every one of them; how they play, how they mentally approach the game,” he said. “So, I think I’m going to try to use that during the series and try to help my teammates if they need to know something else.”
  • Coach Scott Brooks found success with a three-guard starting lineup that he began using in late April. Fred Katz of The Athletic examines how that group will match up against a much larger Sixers team.

Southeast Notes: Bogdanovic, Gallinari, Len, Dragic

Hawks swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic has progressed his rehabilitation to include one-on-one play with contact, the team tweets. Bogdanovic hasn’t played since January 9 due to an avulsion fracture in his right knee. His next step will be reintegration into team practice. Bogdanovic was one of the premier acquisitions of the offseason, signing a four-year, $72MM offer sheet that the Kings declined to match.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Another of the Hawks’ high-level acquisitions, Danilo Gallinari, is showing signs that he’s prepared to make a bigger impact. Gallinari’s 38-point eruption against Boston on Wednesday is more of what the team expected when Gallinari arrived in a sign-and-trade with the Thunder, as coach Lloyd Pierce told The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner“That’s Gallo. We know he’s capable. We know he can give us some more. We want him to give us more,” Pierce said.
  • Wizards center Alex Len has a strong bond with the team’s player development coach David Adkins and assistant Ryan Richman going back to his college days at Maryland. That was the biggest reason he signed with Washington after getting released by Toronto, Fred Katz of The Athletic writes. “I’m kind of like the brother and D.A. is kind of like the uncle/father type of guy in the relationship, I would say,” Richman said.
  • Goran Dragic has shown he can remain a rotation player beyond this season, so the Heat might be inclined to retain the veteran point guard this offseason at the right price, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel speculates. Miami holds a $19.44MM option on Dragic’s contract for next season, which it will almost certainly decline. However, the front office could ask him to return for one of its smaller exceptions.

Southeast Notes: Butler, Bamba, Hawks, Len, Wizards

The Heat may not be without star swingman Jimmy Butler for much longer. According to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald, the expectation is that Butler – who hasn’t played since January 9 – will clear the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Monday.

The Heat will be in action tonight in Brooklyn, but Butler will need a little more time to get his conditioning back up to speed and to pass a cardiac screening before he’s cleared to play in a game. Jackson says there’s optimism that Butler will be able to return later this week and that the same is true of Avery Bradley, who has also been in the league’s COVID-19 protocols for over two weeks.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • The sixth overall pick in 2018, Magic center Mohamed Bamba has an underwhelming NBA résumé so far, but it’s unfair to label him a bust since injuries and a lack of playing time have prevented him from showing what he can do, contends Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer. The 22-year-old has been limited to 33 total minutes across four games so far this season.
  • In an official press release, the Hawks shared details on their plan to begin allowing fans into their home games at State Farm Arena. The club will initially only fill the arena to about eight percent of its capacity.
  • Alex Len was an ideal addition for the Wizards, who needed to fill a hole in their frontcourt and didn’t want to give up anything to do so, says Fred Katz of The Athletic. As Katz notes, the veteran big man was able to assume a rotation role immediately and looked comfortable in his first game with the team on Sunday.
  • While the Wizards were back in action for the first time in nearly two weeks on Sunday, it’ll be a little while longer before things are “back to normal” for the team, writes Ava Wallace of The Washington Post.

Atlantic Notes: Irving, Jersey Swaps, Sixers, Len

It hasn’t been a smooth transition since the Nets formed their Big Three, but Kyrie Irving remains confident that the group will eventually work, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Brooklyn is 3-2 since James Harden joined the team, including a pair of losses this week in Cleveland.

“Don’t trip. It’s a long journey,” Irving posted on Instagram. “We will be on that stage. The stage where the best of the best meet. … You know. The main stage. Where those who can, do. And those who cannot talk about those that are doing. If you rolling with us, great. Let’s rock. If you’re not, you know you wanna talk about our greatness anyway.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • As promised, the NBA is cracking down on post-game interactions between players to minimize COVID-19 risks, notes Liz Roscher of Yahoo. Irving and Miami’s Bam Adebayo were interrupted by a security guard Saturday night as they attempted to exchange jerseys. “I’ll give Kyrie the jersey on my own time,” Adebayo told reporters.
  • Sixers stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are committed to getting the most out of their partnership, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. They are interacting more off the court and trying to mesh their talents together on a Philadelphia team that has the East’s best record at 12-5. “We both see different things, so now for me and Jo, I think the relationship continues to grow,” Simmons said. “We talk a lot more now in terms of being on the floor and certain things we say. Knowing where he wants the ball, all the sets, and just flying, getting into the flow of the game, and just trying to read it the right way.”
  • After waiving Alex Len on Tuesday, the Raptors have a financial incentive to hope he stays with the Wizards, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. If Len remains on Washington’s roster past February 24, which is the last day to release players before their contracts become fully guaranteed, Toronto will receive a $126,029 offset on his $2.258M salary, which is still on the Raptors’ books.

Wizards Notes: Len, Bell, Westbrook, Bertans

After finalizing contracts with Alex Len and Jordan Bell earlier today, the Wizards have enough eligible players to resume their season, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports. Washington has been among the teams hardest hit by COVID-19 and hasn’t played since January 11. After six postponed games and with a still-depleted roster, the Wizards appear ready for Sunday’s game in San Antonio.

The addition of the two big men should make that possible, with Len signing as a free agent after being waived by Toronto and Bell inking a 10-day deal after being ticketed for Washington’s G League affiliate.

“I’m happy to have them. We need bodies,” coach Scott Brooks told reporters. “Both have good experience. Both will get opportunities, probably, for sure Alex will. Right now we only have one five. He gives us good experience, he gives us good length, defensive protection.”

Washington has been depleted at center by a season-ending ACL injury to Thomas Bryant and the loss of Moritz Wagner due to health and safety protocols. Veteran Robin Lopez has taken over as the starter, and Len is expected to be his primary backup.

There’s more from Washington, D.C.:

  • In addition to Wagner, Deni Avdija, Davis Bertans, Troy Brown Jr., Rui Hachimura and Ish Smith are unavailable due to coronavirus-related reasons. Brooks expects their returns to be staggered as they’re cleared one or two at a time, Hughes tweets.
  • If there’s a bright spot to the way the virus has hit the Wizards, it’s that Russell Westbrook has only missed two games after aggravating a quadriceps injury he suffered in the preseason, observes Jackson Filyo of NBA.com. Westbrook has been practicing in a limited capacity and is listed as questionable for Sunday. “(I’ve been) just running through a few things with the team,” he said. “Trying to get myself back in shape a little bit, seeing how I feel each day – trying to ramp up and making sure I take my time.”
  • Bertans will miss his second return to San Antonio since the Spurs traded him to Washington, notes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express News. Bertans was spectacular against his former teammates last season, scoring 23 points and hitting all seven of his shots from the field. “We definitely brought something out in him that I don’t want to see again,” said LaMarcus Aldridge.

Wizards Sign Alex Len To One-Year Deal

JANUARY 23: The Wizards have made it official, announcing in a press release that they’ve signed Len.


JANUARY 22: Free agent center Alex Len, who cleared waivers on Thursday after being released by the Raptors on Tuesday, has agreed to sign a one-year contract with the Wizards, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

According to Charania, Len had multiple suitors and chose the Wizards in part because of the clear path to playing time in D.C. — starting center Thomas Bryant tore his ACL earlier this month and will miss the rest of the season, while Anzejs Pasecniks was released this past weekend, leaving Robin Lopez as the only true center on the active roster.

The fifth overall pick in the 2013 draft, Len signed a one-year, $2.26MM contract with the Raptors in November, but didn’t see much action in his brief stint with the team. The 2.3 points and 10.9 minutes per game he averaged in seven contests with Toronto would’ve been his lowest marks since his rookie season.

Len has been more productive in recent years. He averaged a career-best 11.1 PPG in 77 games (20.1 MPG) with Atlanta in 2018/19, then posted 8.0 PPG and 5.8 RPG in 55 games (17.6 MPG) in part-time roles for the Hawks and Kings last season.

Having waived Pasecniks a few days ago, the Wizards had an open spot on their 15-man roster, so no corresponding move will be required to make room for Len.

The big man will earn a prorated portion of the veteran’s minimum on his new deal with Washington, notes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington (Twitter link). If the signing is officially completed today, Len would earn a $1,712,648 salary and the Wizards would take on a $1,276,472 cap hit.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southeast Notes: Fultz, Hunter, Len, Magic

The Magic‘s performance as of late without point guard Markelle Fultz has highlighted his importance to the club, writes Josh Robbins of The Athletic. The Magic are 1-6 since Fultz was lost for the season with an ACL tear. Fultz’s savvy court vision had been a key component of the Magic’s offense.

“We’ve got to figure something out to try to get us going into offense smoother and understand how we’ve got to play,” shooting guard Terrence Ross noted. “With no Markelle we’re trying to figure it out, but it’s tough. So we’ve got to keep going at it.”

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Hawks wing De’Andre Hunter has grown into the club’s most reliable player, with an improved offensive attack, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic opines. Hunter’s development can be a boon to the franchise in both the short and long term. “He has a chance to be really, really special,” Hawks center Clint Capela said. “To be able to guard the star on the opposite team every night, (it) has been amazing to see that.”
  • With the Wizards losing starting center Thomas Bryant for the year due to a torn left ACL, the club may need to shore up the position with some additional help. Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington posits that recently-waived big man Alex Len could be an intriguing defensive fit for the team.
  • Given the season-long absences of recently-extended young starters Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac, Josh Robbins of The Athletic explores whether or not it makes sense for the Magic to tank for a high draft pick this season.

Raptors Waive Alex Len

The Raptors have waived veteran center Alex Len, the team announced today in a press release. The transaction opens up a spot on Toronto’s roster, leaving the club with 14 players on standard contracts and a pair on two-way deals.

The fifth overall pick in the 2013 draft, Len had only played in seven of the Raptors’ 13 games so far this season, and was averaging 2.3 PPG in 10.9 MPG — both marks were his lowest since his rookie season. With Chris Boucher enjoying a breakout year and Aron Baynes also in the mix, Len was third on the depth chart at center.

Although Len hadn’t been playing regular minutes for the Raptors as of late, it’s still a somewhat unexpected move, since he signed a guaranteed contract with the team in free agency less than two months ago.

The 27-year-old recently missed multiple games for personal reasons and was listed as out due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Monday, but there has been no indication that his release was related to his recent absence.

Len’s $2.258MM salary will remain on Toronto’s cap unless he’s claimed on waivers, which seems unlikely. Assuming he clears waivers, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent on Thursday afternoon and will be eligible to sign with any team.

The Raptors, meanwhile, won’t be required to fill their open roster spot, but could eventually use it to sign a veteran free agent, to accommodate a trade, or to promote two-way player Yuta Watanabe to the 15-man roster.

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.”