When news broke last week of the Suns signing Tyson Chandler, some scratched their heads wondering why the Suns had given up so quickly on their youth movement.
Twenty one year old Alex Len had just matured into a starting role at center, and the Suns had already shown they didn't have enough firepower to make the playoffs in the loaded West. Len is one of five Suns players aged 23 or younger (Brandon Knight, Archie Goodwin, T.J. Warren, Devin Booker), with two more just entering their prime at age 26 (Markieff Morris, Eric Bledsoe). Five of the seven have solidified spots in the 10-man rotation next season.
But Len, on the other hand, sees the Chandler signing in a different light.
"I liked it," Alex Len said yesterday of the Tyson Chandler addition. "We definitely need help. We're trying to get in the playoffs. We're trying to win games so I thought he was a great addition to the team."
As much as some fans might want the Suns to tank, that's just not something that's in their DNA. Everyone from the front office, the coaches to the players want to win games, and the Suns have proven - young as they are - that they very well can win a lot of games.
48 wins in 2013-14 was impossible to repeat in 2014-15 after the loss of some key personnel, but still the Suns were 38-33 late in the season despite suffering from half-dozen buzzer-beater losses and a few more give-away games due to disciplinary suspensions throughout the season.
Think about that. Still 38-33 despite awful chemistry, no player leadership, half-dozen "how did that happen" losses and not a single All-Star in the lineup.
Now, the Suns have brought in a veteran starting caliber center in Tyson Chandler, a 2013 All-Star and 2011 Defensive Player of the Year. Adding Chandler on day one of free agency is a sure sign that they want to win and want to make the playoffs for the first time in six seasons (counting the 2015-16 season to be played).
Alex Len welcomes the addition.
"Definitely," he said of being excited. "I've been watching him growing up. He's always been one of the best bigs defensively so I can definitely learn a lot of stuff defensively."
Len has already conceded his starting position too.
"Obviously, he's going to start," Len said without hesitation. "He's an All-Star caliber player. My mentality right now is trying to get better every day, try to come early and try to get ready for the season."
You might think Len would be frustrated with the change, considering he took over the starting spot for a winning NBA team last year at the young age of 21. But he sure didn't sound frustrated.
"I started my first two years on the bench," he reminded us.
Then he talked about how Summer League might be a preview of next season's bench mob, with him playing a lot of minutes alongside T.J. Warren (21), Archie Goodwin (20) and Devin Booker (18).
"Definitely going to help during the season," he said of Summer League. "Because we're probably coming off the bench together. So we can work right now so when we get to the season we're going to be ready."
These guys want to win games. A lot of games. Don't count on them to tank anything.
That Len added his name to the SL roster is a testament to how quickly these guys want to wash away the taste of last season. Both Len and Archie remembered the joy of 2013 Summer League and how their success that summer led to the surprising success of the 48-win season.
"We want to win the whole thing," Goodwin said.