Sacramento Kings Free Agent Profile: Alex Len
Jun 27, 2023, 8:39 AM | Updated: 9:04 am
(Photo by Isaiah Vazquez/Clarkson Creative/Getty Images)
The 2022-23 season was a roller coaster for Alex Len.
As the Sacramento Kings pushed toward the NBA Playoffs, the seven-footer spent most of the regular season buried at the bottom of the team’s center rotation behind Domantas Sabonis and Chimezie Metu.
Len, a 30-year-old, 10-year veteran, took the tough assignment of sitting on the bench in stride and with class, as you could still see the big man front and center with his teammates during each postgame Defensive Player of the Game photo.
Even when things got tough for Len, who played the entire season with a heavy heart due to the horrors that were unfolding in his home country of Ukraine, the center never wavered in being a good teammate, something that the coaching staff applauded him for near the end of the season.
In fact, the coaching staff applauded Len for reasons outside of his attitude near the end of the regular season, as Len reemerged as the team’s backup center on March 27th, just two weeks before the Kings were set to open up the NBA Playoffs.
After playing just 45 minutes over the first 74 games of the season, Len took the reigns of the backup center spot and finished out the final eight games averaging 3.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game while shooting 61 percent from the field.
Brown opted to utilize Len’s screen-setting and shot-blocking skillset down the stretch, something that the team would need against their first-round opponent, the Golden State Warriors.
“First thing that jumps off the bat is his size,” Brown said of Len on April 2nd. “And he uses it well. It’s extremely impactful. It’s impactful when he’s around the rim and he’s rebounding. For as big as he is, he’s got really good feet. He gets up and down the floor fairly well.
“He’s probably our best screen setter in pick-and-roll situations,” Brown continued when asked about Len’s reemergence in the rotation. “He gets his feet set, doesn’t move, his base is solid. And then he gets out of the screen really quick in terms of getting a paint touch by putting pressure on the rim, trying to dive to the rim.”
A-Len was not having it 😤 pic.twitter.com/4CNCYQkS5i
— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) April 3, 2023
Len began the postseason in a backup role against Golden State, coming off the bench behind Sabonis during the first five games of the series while averaging 3.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game and shooting 87 percent from the field (10.2 minutes).
While Sacramento needed a big body like Len to try and combat rebounding nightmare Kevon Looney, the big man often got blown by on the defensive end, allowing Warriors players to attack the paint more that the Kings could afford.
In Games 6 and 7, Brown called on Trey Lyles to play small-ball five, sending Len back into a third-string role.
Sacramento’s season came to an end in Game 7, and a glaring issue that plagued the Kings all year moved to the top of general manager Monte McNair’s offseason to-do list:
Find stability at the backup center position.
Should the Sacramento Kings bring Alex Len back in free agency?
Len, who just celebrated his 30th birthday on June 16th, will enter free agency on Friday at 3:00 pm PST after a two-year stint with Sacramento.
After bringing in $3.9 million in 2021-22 and $3.7 million in 2022-23, it’s unlikely that the Kings would bring Len back under similar financial parameters.
During the summer of 2021, McNair used the team’s bi-annual exception to ink the big man. It’s fair to expect any use of Sacramento’s exceptions will be spent elsewhere, but there is still a window for a Len return.
If Len cannot find a new home in free agency, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Kings bring him back on a vet-min deal to be the third-string center behind Sabonis and the eventual second-string big McNair will attempt to track down this summer.
ALEX LEN SWATTED DRAYMOND'S SHOT 🚫 pic.twitter.com/RlEm73FAaS
— ESPN (@espn) April 16, 2023
Chimezie Metu is an unrestricted free agent. Richaun Holmes is now a Dallas Maverick.
Two-way center Neemias Queta will enter restricted or unrestricted free agency this summer (the Kings have until June 29th to extend a qualifying offer).
Trey Lyles, who played small-ball five at times this season, will also enter unrestricted free agency on Friday.
Sacramento currently has one center on the roster: Domantas Sabonis.
While it’s leaning more towards unlikely that Len returns to the Kings, an avenue to return as a third-string big could open up as the team looks to solidify the center position.
Sacramento Kings Offseason Schedule
- Friday, June 30– Free Agent negotiating period begins
- Monday, July 3rd & Wednesday, July 5th – California Classic Summer League at Golden 1 Center
- Thursday, July 6– Free Agents can begin signing deals
- Friday, July 7–Monday, July 17– NBA Summer League in Las Vegas
- August TBD– 2023-24 NBA regular season schedule release
- September TBD– Sacramento Kings training camp begins