But as the season comes to a close and Len heads into the summer as an unrestricted free agent, it’s clear that after five mostly unfulfilling years, Len will be with a different team in 2018-19.
“Probably,” Len told azcentral sports in a one-on-one discussion prior to the game against Detroit.
“I’m looking forward to this offseason,” he said. “I think it’s going to be exciting. It’s the first time I’m actually going to have a chance to go where I want to go.”
Pending free agents rarely announce a plan to leave their current team, especially while the season is still going. That Len does so emphasizes just how likely he is to depart Phoenix.
Not that we needed much more indication.
As a baseline, since the 1999 Collective Bargaining Agreement went into effect, 16 first-round picks signed qualifying offers. Only one – Spencer Hawes (76ers) – re-signed the following offseason. Len and Mavericks center Nerlens Noel haven’t finished their qualify-offer seasons, but appear unlikely to re-sign with their current teams. If a player gets that far without he and the team committing long-term to each other, a parting usually comes next.
The Suns’ circumstances make Len’s departure even more likely. Phoenix will have a high pick in the upcoming draft, and there’re a decent chance a top center – DeAndre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, Mo Bamba, Jaren Jackson Jr., Wendell Carter Jr. – is the best player available. The Suns also have centers Tyson Chandler and Alan Williams under contract next season.
Len, who turns 25 in June, is a traditional center. At 7-foot-1, he scores near the basket and rebounds well, and his size deters opponents inside. He could help teams off the bench – just probably not Phoenix.