Is this the year that the Suns' young big man breaks out?

Although this off-season will likely be remembered as "The Summer of the Guards", The Phoenix Suns have also made a statement by who they chose to sign at the center position.


The only "moves" the Suns made to address the post this off-season are bringing back Shavlik Randolph (his contract for the season was guaranteed after the Suns chose to keep him past the July 17th deadline), and signing Earl Barron to a non-guaranteed training camp deal.

That's it.

Last season, Miles Plumlee averaged only 25 minutes per game as the team's starting center, while rookie Alex Len averaged just eight minutes while only playing in half the total games.

With the loss of Channing Frye to the Orlando Magic in free agency, the Suns are now banking on their two big men, Miles Plumlee and Alex Len, to carry the load.

While this means that Miles Plumlee will also be expected to step up, the Suns are betting big on a healthy and productive Alex Len to help provide quality minutes on a nightly basis.

Alex Len was the 5th overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft, and a player that the Suns viewed as a true center who is also skilled and very mobile for his size...a rare commodity in the NBA.

He's 7' 1" (as I can personally vouch for by standing next to him) and seems much bigger now than the 255 lbs he was listed at last season.

At Suns Media Day, I asked Alex about his expectations for this season, and what he's been working on to prepare for a much larger role on the team this year.

"I've been spending a lot of time in the weight room.  I've been polishing my post moves and working on all of the little defense, and when I get in the game don't get stupid fouls."

Which brings up a good point.  In addition to Alex struggling to get healthy last season, he also struggled to stay in the game due to foul trouble.  Averaging just 8.6 minutes per game, he averaged 1.6 fouls.  When you translate that to the per-36 stat, it equals 6.8 fouls...which is a problem when you're only allowed five.

This will definitely be an area that Alex will have to improve on this season, as he will be counted on to stay out of foul trouble.

Of course, this doesn't mean Len will be passive either.  Not by a long shot.  In fact, Alex has embraced the physicality of the position and has taken steps to ensure he is ready to bang with the big boys this season.

"Last year I couldn't put on a lot of weight because of my ankles...I couldn't put a lot of extra pressure on them. This year I feel healthier so I've been able to put on an extra 15 pounds (of muscle) that will definitely help me".

Alex seems to believe that he's ready to take on the challenge of playing a big part on this years Suns' team, but he certainly wasn't the only one who felt that way.

It seemed to be a common theme around media day when coaches and players were asked about who has impressed them so far in the voluntary workouts this off-season.

Head Coach Jeff Hornacek also made note of Alex's physical development.

"What we've seen in this last month is his strength has gotten better. I watched our training camp practices from last year, and just looking at guys like him and Archie (Goodwin) how they've (gotten bigger) in one year.  Both of those guys have gotten a lot stronger and it's helped their game and the things they do on the court."

In addition, Goran Dragic specifically mentioned how impressed he's been with Len so far in the workouts as well.

"He looks really good, much better than last year.  Last year he had a lot of injuries, but this year he's moving well, and in the pick-up games we've been playing he looks amazing."

Goran also went on to explain that Alex, along with Archie Goodwin, has been one of the team's biggest surprises compared to last year.

"I think Alex is really more comfortable.  He's got that fire back in him, and I think he can help this team a lot this season."

All indications seem to be that Alex is in for a big jump this season, as long as he can stay healthy.  That's certainly the question.  After having two minor surgeries on his ankles before the start of last season, will he be able to avoid injury this year?

If there's any reason to be hopeful he can, it's that the Suns have the best training staff in the entire league...and it's not even close.  You can be assured they will be working diligently to keep Alex healthy this season.

The Suns are certainly counting on him.

PHOENIX — Can an overseas player translate his professional success to the NBA? That’s the million (and a half) dollar question for the Suns and their final roster addition heading into...

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I'm confused at what exactly you can buy for $52 million.

An unprecedented negotiation. The Morris boys are worth $52 million. Together. Or each. Something like that. Read more here.

Here's a word that's not always familiar in Phoenix: defense. Goran Dragic says his brother Zoran can be "a little bit of a dirty player," without the ball.

Oh right, Zoran Dragic is now a Phoenix Sun.

And because now you're missing seeing Goran play, here's a look at The Dragon's top five games from last season.

Eric Bledsoe stated that he wanted to stay in Phoenix all along. With everything that transpired, is there really any other sentiment to have? Imagine this story ends with Bledsoe signing a contract extension then saying, "I'm not really sure if Phoenix is for me." Right, I can't imagine that either.

A look at how all these pieces will fit together as training camp begins.

Earl Barron, Joe Jackson, Casey Prather, and Jamil Wilson are all getting a shot with the Suns.

The demand for Cavaliers tickets has skyrocketed since LeBron James announced his return Cleveland. The Cavs will draw an impressive crowd on the road as well. So how thirsty are fans to see the Suns away from US Airways Center? Spoiler Alert: Not very thirsty.

Robert Sarver has learned his lesson. Or rather he has applied lessons learned.

If you're a fan of a past regime, here's a call to "move on."

Jerry Colangelo did have a business school named after him though, so he's doing fine.

Military members, police officers, firefighters and teachers will have the opportunity to buy discounted Suns tickets for the 2014-15 season via the "Commitment to Community" program.

A look at the rise of Terry and Ryan McDonough.

Former Suns center (sort of) Dejan Koturovic probably wishes he could trade places with you right now. The Serbian star was arrested after allegedly attempting to enter Macedonia from Yunanistan in a stolen vehicle.

The Morris brothers have always wanted to play together.

UPDATE: Added the formal presser at the end of this story

"Since day one, since the day we picked up a basketball," Markieff Morris said at the press conference where the Suns announced signing the twins for $52 million over 4 years. "This was our dream to play on the same team. We did it in college, did it in high school, and now the Suns made our dream come true."

The Phoenix Suns acquire Marcus Morris less than two years after he was drafted by the Houston Rockets one pick later than Markieff in the 2011 Draft,

"Every time we played the Suns," Marcus said. "I would see Lon and he would tell me he's coming to get me."

"That's off the record," Babby interjected.

Now, the Suns committed to keeping these players together for the next five seasons (one more on their rookie deals, then four more after that).

"It's been a great joy for me personally," Babby said. "To watch them since they've come to the Suns. Not only on the court but as men and leaders of our franchise. These two young guys have such a bond between them, we had to try to find a way to keep them together. The synergy between them will only grow. They are great representatives of our franchise."

Of course, things can change in the NBA, players can be traded. But the Suns have always known - and appreciated - that the Morris twins are a package deal.

With the agreement of managing partner Robert Sarver and GM Ryan McDonough, he offered a total of $52 million over 4 years to the brothers as a package deal, and asked them to split it how they wanted.

"We wasn't even thinking about [extensions]," Marcus said at Media Day. "We were just trying to prepare for the season. It came out of nowhere, actually. We got it done, and we're just looking forward to the season now."

"I did something I've never done before," Lon Babby said to Bright Side of the Morris negotiations. "Once we agreed on the amount of money, I gave them the first crack at how to divide it up."

"Once we agreed on the amount of money, I gave them the first crack at how to divide it up."

Wait, what?

"I didn't want there to be any disconnect," he explained. "What I knew would happen is that they are each the best advocate for the other one. So Markieff is going to be worried about what Marcus is getting and Marcus is going to be worried about Markieff. I didn't want to mess up that dynamic, so I gave them a chance and they came up with a good solution."

Somehow, the brothers agreed to a split pretty quickly and it wasn't even right down the middle. Markieff gets $8 million per year, while Marcus gets $5 million per year. Keef put up 13 and 6 in 26 minutes per game last year, while Marcus put up 10 and 4 in 20 minutes. This year, Markieff is slated to start at power forward, backed up by brother Marcus. Keef can slide to the center position in small lineups while Marcus can slide to small forward. They will likely play a number of minutes together each game.

Babby said there are aren't any "no trade" clauses in their contracts, but the twins do not want to be separated and the Suns know they play better together.

"This was the only way," Markieff said regarding free agency for he and his brother. "If we were open [to being separated] we probably wouldn't have signed [yet]."

"This was the only way. If we were open [to being separated], we probably wouldn't have signed [yet]." -Markieff Morris on staying with Marcus

Now, the Suns have signed most of their core to long-term contracts.

"All of this was designed to make sure we had no distractions," Babby said. "That we were able to move forward from that higher level [established last year] and give ourselves the best chance of having another great season."

"It's a dream come true," Markieff said. "We'd like to thank the Suns for believing in us. It feels like a family atmosphere and we felt it was right to re-sign as early as we did and be a part of this family for the long term."

In fact, only Goran Dragic, Gerald Green and Shavlik Randolph are free agents next summer. Anthony Tolliver could join them, as only $400,000 of his $3 million contract is guaranteed.

Dragic is almost certain to re-sign, now that Zoran Dragic is on the team and the Suns have proven that they take care of their own.suns-cap-update

"Our core is young," GM Ryan McDonough said. "The nucleus of the team is sustainable, and can grow together over time. When were healthy last year, our numbers were pretty good.

"We value stability. We don't want to be a team that turns their roster over every year, especially unnecessarily. We wanted to get our core take care of."

When asked if the Morris brothers were proud they paired up on the Suns ahead of the Dragic brothers, Marcus was first to clarify.

"They're brothers. We're twins. There's something unique going on here, man. We got to get Mason [Plumlee] next."

Here's the formal presser, taken by Bright Side's Evan Wendt:

PHOENIX — The Morris twins’ contract extension (yes, singular) was announced the morning before Suns media day, a rare case for one rookie contract extension, let alone two. Markieff and...

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