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Alex Len chapfallen over diminishing minutes

Crestfallen, even.

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NBA: Utah Jazz at Phoenix Suns Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Len is having a career year on the glass for your Phoenix Suns. Through 18 games he’s averaging over nine rebounds per contest, easily besting the 7.6 per game he pulled down two seasons ago. He’s doing this despite finding that minutes are harder to come by.

He’s only played in one of the last three games. On November 24th against the New Orleans Pelicans he pulled down 12 boards in 19 minutes. A week prior he collected a season-high 18 rebounds in 26 minutes in a win over the Lakers. Those are some good numbers for his second contract year, but his trouble staying on the court probably isn’t helping making him attractive to suitors.

Scott Bordow of azcentral.com asked Len about his lack of playing time.

“We’ve just got too many bigs,” he said.

I wish all NBA players could be so concise.

Indeed, interim head coach Jay Triano has favored a lineup that more prominently features veteran big men Tyson Chandler and Greg Monroe. Suns fans should not worry, though. Once upon a time the Phoenix back court had more pieces than the team could manage. I think we all remember how well that ended. So the front court should go just as smoothly.

Actually, all jokes aside, I think Len sounds a little miffed.

“I want to be out there and I want to compete,” Len said. “I put in the work hoping to show my skills on the court. So when you’re not able to help your team it’s frustrating.”

Ok, that’s fair.

“Obviously I want to win for the Phoenix Suns but at the same time when you play you showcase yourself for the other 29 teams.”

Well, that’s true.

“I try not to think about it.”

Something about that statement bummed me out.

Before you slam Keith for breaking down every piece of what this kid said, please bear in mind that we are absolutely at the bottom of the league when it comes to management-player relations. So while I don’t disagree with anything that Len said, it’s worth giving a little more consideration to player temperament. Maybe we can avoid another ugly divorce, you know, like virtually every player to leave Phoenix in the last three years.

For his part, Triano seems to be saying the right things.

“It’s been hard to get him playing time,” Triano said. “When you have veteran players in front of you sometimes they’re going to demand the playing time. I have to find ways to get Alex in because he has been good and he’s rebounded the ball for us.”

Here’s what he’s telling Len about staying ready:

“Because you don’t know when you’re going to get the chance. The worst thing to happen is you’re not ready and thinking you’re not going to play then you get thrown in and don’t play well.”

Agreed. That would be bad.

Credit Len for knowing his place in the NBA universe. He’s ready when called upon and knows he’s auditioning for future employers.

“I showed this team – and teams around the league – what I can do when I get in there,” he said. “I rebounded well, I finished around the rim. If Coach needs me I’m here.”

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