Who said anything about basketball hell?
This summer, the Sacramento Kings welcomed back center Alex Len for a second stint with the team after his departure following the 2019-20 season. Through his 15 games played in a Kings uniform, the big man averaged 5.9 points and 6.1 rebounds and even got to start in three contests.
Following his time in Sactown, Len split his 2020-21 season between the Toronto Raptors (during their Tampa Bay tenure) and the Washington Wizards. Heading into free agency, Len says that returning to the Kings was something he had tried to do before, and that the decision rested on culture and familiarity.
“I was actually trying to come back last year but it didn’t work out,” Len told reporters on Wednesday. “I had a couple of options and was kind of comfortable coming back, knowing the coaching staff, knowing some of the players.”
In his comfort came a sense of identity, as Sacramento has worked to establish a core of guys who are here to stay.
“We’ve still got the same core of players, so it kind of feels the same. Same coach, same aura around the same — it feels the same.” Len said.
And while much has change in terms of expectations for Sacramento since Len’s departure following the NBA bubble during the extended COVID-19 season, he believes what Sacramento is building upon has value.
“It was a good opportunity to come in, make an impact and possibly make the playoffs this year. I like the opportunity here.” Len said.
In Len’s one season absence from the team, defense dwindled extensively. Now with seven centers slated on the roster, he believes that he and Tristan Thompson can come into this operation and improve gamesmanship across the timeline.
“Now we’ve got me and Tristan, so we’ve got some guy that have been around,” Len said to reporters. “We’re definitely going to try and bring the toughness, defense, blocking shots, running the floor because we’re definitely going to need it.”
Free agency isn’t exactly the Kings’ forté, so to have a returning player who sounds genuinely excited about coming in and making an impact is a real palette cleanser.
Across the board, morale seems high amongst players at training camp. Hearing words like “opportunity” and “aura” seem to be pointing this franchise in the right direction.