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The Phoenix Suns' starting center Marcin Gortat is nearly 30 and on the last year of a very reasonable contract. Two days ago, the Suns drafted his eventual replacement in 20-year old Alex Len.

If the Phoenix Suns were a playoff team, this scenario at center would be ideal - make one more run with Gortat getting the bulk of the minutes in the pivot while the rookie grows into an NBA player. And, if the rookie proved not to be ready to start in 2014-15, even consider giving Gortat a 3-year extension to stay in the Valley.

But the Suns are not a playoff team. The Suns are a team who's best hope for the future is to look toward a high pick in the 2014 Draft, and while they're at it give any help they can to Minnesota to make the postseason.

While in 2012-13 Gortat proved he's no obstacle to keeping the worst record in the West, there's still the matter of chemistry and player development. Marcin Gortat is not a player development specialist. He doesn't own the locker room, or rally any troops around him. He's not an example for young kids to emulate, as he simply goes about his job and talks more about "I" than "we".

Gortat wants to win basketball games, and he's not going to do it in the Valley. He needs to be a valuable contributor on a veteran team, playing his role and nothing else.

Speculation ran rampant on both the Blazers blogs as well as the Suns' that Gortat could be traded for the #10 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. That did not happen. It could have been logistics - no trade package works until the 2013-14 season begins, so it could only have been a "promise" deal. Or, it could have been that Portland would rather pay Nikola Pekovic or Tiago Splitter $12+ million per year than pay Gortat less.

Whatever the case, the Suns and Gortat are still married.

"It's clear they are in a rebuild and they drafted a center, so [a trade] would make sense, but for now they want to hold onto him," Gortat's agent Guy Zucker said Friday afternoon to RealGM. "As with everything in the league, it should be stated: As of today."

Right after Alex Len was taken with the 5th pick in Thursday's NBA Draft, new Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek riffed on the dynamic between the two centers.

"We always talk about rebuilding," Hornacek said when asked about Gortat. "However, we have to remember we have some very good players on this team, and that sometimes when you add a piece or two all of a sudden that could change a little bit. We have a lot of possibilities.

"I don't know that we'd go the twin towers route but if Alex gets in there right away and it's like this kid should be playing right off the bat, maybe we try that and that's a weapon we can use every once in a while."

Obviously, Hornacek has no idea how they will play together and, with Len's injury, won't get a chance to see that until training camp at the earliest. I am guessing Hornacek was just talking off the top of his head while Gortat was still on the team. He was allowing for the fact that they might earn more minutes, between them, than the 48 in the pivot.

General Manager Ryan McDonough iterated the Suns' stance on the local media, just as he did to Gortat's agent.

"We're not looking to move him," Suns general manager Ryan McDonough told Arizona Sports 620′s Burns and Gambo Friday. "As you guys I'm sure know, Alex had foot surgery, and he's not ready to play.

"Marcin is one of our best players here. He's a core guy for us. He is one of the more athletic bigs in the league, he screens, he rolls, he finishes and he blocks shots."

To me, that's simply a message to the rest of the league to step up your bush league offers. There are a few centers available in free agency that won't be very free. Yet the teams who need a solid, veteran center might want to feel those options out before giving the Suns an asset or two for Gortat.

Al Jefferson, Andrew Bynum, Nikola Pekovic and Tiago Splitter will all get at least $10-12 million per year for several years. While Bynum and Jefferson are free to sign with anyone and are likely unwanted by their incumbent team, the other two are very likely to stay right where they are.

Both Pekovic and Splitter are restricted free agents, meaning their team can match an offer. And both are considered priorities by their incumbent teams, Minnesota and San Antonio respectively.

Most likely, teams that need a veteran center will try that route first, then circle back to the Suns for a cheaper option.

20130114_jla_as8_348

Phoenix Suns' Shannon Brown got the shaft last spring, getting benched in favor of a trial run with Wesley Johnson. Brown went weeks without playing, and only then would get a quick hook.

But if the remainder of the season told us anything, it told us that any combination of that orange-colored potpourri was going to get the same results. Play the vets with a veteran coach, go 13-28. Play the kids with a rookie coach, go 12-29. One game diff.

Now the offseason hits and the Suns have some early decisions to make. The Suns had a chance to absorb larger contracts to get a draft pick by sending back a non-guaranteed one in its place, but did not get any deals completed on that end. The Suns simply absorbed Malcolm Lee's 884K to move up one slot.

Now the Suns have to decide quickly whether to keep (and guarantee) or release three guys in the coming hours of the weekend.

Shannon Brown ($3,500,000, only 50% guaranteed if waived within 36 hours after the end of the draft)

With the drafting of Archie Goodwin, the Suns have at least replaced what Brown gave the Suns, but in a different (and better) way. Both are energy players who like the ball in their hands to score, but Goodwin takes it to the rim and absorbs contact while Brown dribbles into contested jumpers.

It appears there's just no need, or minutes, for Shannon Brown on the Suns anymore.

Hamed Haddadi ($1,397,500, only $200,000 guaranteed if waived on or before June 29th)

Like Brown, it appears that Haddadi's contributions to last year's Suns team has been at least replaced if not bettered by 20 year old rookie Alex Len.

Both are extra long and extra raw, able to make a difference defensively but unable to be trusted in 2013-14 for more than a few minutes at a time. With Haddadi, that was due to lack of conditioning. With Len, that's inexperience.

The Suns won't give Len 30+ minutes per game from the start, but they will give him as many minutes as he can handle. Between a starting (stopgap) center and Len, there's no room for Haddadi except through injury.

P.J. Tucker ($884,293, fully unguaranteed if waived on or before July 1st)

This one's the easiest, in my mind. Tucker's defense and tenacity is so valuable for his contract that he has to be brought back. He's already been invited to play a couple of Summer League games, so that tells me the Suns will not waive him.

20130114_jla_as8_348

Phoenix Suns' Shannon Brown got the shaft last spring, getting benched in favor of a trial run with Wesley Johnson. Brown went weeks without playing, and only then would get a quick hook.

But if the remainder of the season told us anything, it told us that any combination of that orange-colored potpourri was going to get the same results. Play the vets with a veteran coach, go 13-28. Play the kids with a rookie coach, go 12-29. One game diff.

Now the offseason hits and the Suns have some early decisions to make. The Suns had a chance to absorb larger contracts to get a draft pick by sending back a non-guaranteed one in its place, but did not get any deals completed on that end. The Suns simply absorbed Malcolm Lee's 884K to move up one slot.

Now the Suns have to decide quickly whether to keep (and guarantee) or release three guys in the coming hours of the weekend.

Shannon Brown ($3,500,000, only 50% guaranteed if waived within 36 hours after the end of the draft)

With the drafting of Archie Goodwin, the Suns have at least replaced what Brown gave the Suns, but in a different (and better) way. Both are energy players who like the ball in their hands to score, but Goodwin takes it to the rim and absorbs contact while Brown dribbles into contested jumpers.

It appears there's just no need, or minutes, for Shannon Brown on the Suns anymore.

Hamed Haddadi ($1,397,500, only $200,000 guaranteed if waived on or before June 29th)

Like Brown, it appears that Haddadi's contributions to last year's Suns team has been at least replaced if not bettered by 20 year old rookie Alex Len.

Both are extra long and extra raw, able to make a difference defensively but unable to be trusted in 2013-14 for more than a few minutes at a time. With Haddadi, that was due to lack of conditioning. With Len, that's inexperience.

The Suns won't give Len 30+ minutes per game from the start, but they will give him as many minutes as he can handle. Between a starting (stopgap) center and Len, there's no room for Haddadi except through injury.

***UPDATE***

The #Suns waived Hamed Haddadi. Doing so today allows them to pay him $200K instead of guaranteeing a $1.4M salary for next season.

— Paul Coro (@paulcoro) June 29, 2013

P.J. Tucker ($884,293, fully unguaranteed if waived on or before July 1st)

This one's the easiest, in my mind. Tucker's defense and tenacity is so valuable for his contract that he has to be brought back. He's already been invited to play a couple of Summer League games, so that tells me the Suns will not waive him.

PHOENIX – Judging or grading the draft the night of doesn’t lead to any sort of accuracy. Many Phoenix Suns fans were disapproving of the Alex Len pick at No. 5. It certainly wasn’t the...

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The Phoenix Suns had some tough decisions to make in the 2013 NBA Draft. Three top prospects, Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore, and Alex Len, whom all had a good chance of being drafted before the Suns picked fifth overall, were all unexpectedly available when it was time for the Suns to make their first selection.

Noel, who was long rumored to be the first pick taken in the NBA draft, was hardly even mentioned as a serious consideration for the Suns...he was too far out of their reach.

Ben McLemore, who was touted by many as the preeminent wing of the draft was rumored to be one of Phoenix's favorites, was also there for the taking.

However, when the Suns made their pick, it was Alex Len, The 7'1" sophomore center from Maryland who unexpectedly donned the orange draft cap.

But the surprises weren't over yet. Late in the first round, the Suns traded up one spot to draft Archie Goodwin, another unexpected selection by many accounts, with players like Jamaal Franklin, Allen Crabbe, and Ricky Ledo still available.

Finally, the Suns capped off their draft late in the second round by taking Alex Oriakhi with the 57th pick...Once again foregoing more popular names like C.J. Leslie, Myck Kabongo, and Kenny Kadji to name a few.

Many fans and and experts alike seemed shoocked initially, but now that everyone has had a chance to digest what transpired, what is everyone else saying about the Suns draft?

Here is a look around the web:

The Grades:

Let's begin with one of the most popular experts, Chad Ford of ESPN. Here is an excerpt of what he had to say:

This year, Suns president Lon Babby hired one of the best scouts in the business, Ryan McDonough, as his new general manager. But the first draft pick of the McDonough era, in some ways, looked a lot like the draft picks the Suns have been making.

Ford made mention of Len's upside but also the Suns passing on Noel and McLemore to get him. He seems to like the Archie Goodwin pick however, and was rather neutral toward Alex Oriakhi.

Overall Grade: B-

Next up we have Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:

The Suns got a center of the future in Alex Len, whose presence could make the coveted Marcin Gortat expendable. I thought Archie Goodwin at No. 29 was a reach; Goodwin has not shown me he can be an NBA three-point shooter and is on the small side for a 2-guard. Still, a lot of teams had him slotted in the lottery during the college season, when he struggled more than people expected.

Overall Grade: B-

Here's what Adi Joseph of USA Today had to say:

The Suns need a home run, particularly now with new management. They're counting on Len to become an elite defender and to develop his soft touch. Goodwin wasn't a reach but also wasn't the best shooting guard on the board. He could get a chance to start at a position of need. Oriakhi probably won't make the team but is tough and physical. The draft is underwhelming, but none of the picks were bad.

Overall Grade: B-

So far so good right?

Well, then there's Matt Moore of CBS Sports:

I'm probably being too harsh on him (Len). But I look at his pick and roll, I look at his strength at the basket, and I look at his upside to what he can possibly be, and I don't see a dominant player.

Moore was more complimentary of the other two selections, but he didn't offer an overall grade. Instead, he broke them up into the three picks:

Len = F, Goodwin = B+, Oriakhi = B+

Taking all of these grades into account, the Suns would probably average an overall grade of C+

Alex Len was a top prospect in his own right who was also mentioned as a possible first pick. But most people assumed the Suns' first priority was a marquee shooting guard...So when the Suns passed up on McLemore as well as Noel who was commonly thought of as the top prospect in the entire draft, it was more than a little shocking to many experts and fans alike, to say the least.

Conversely, the selection of Goodwin was viewed as a fairly big positive for the Suns, and Oriakhi...well, for a 57th pick it would be difficult to complain.

Regardless of what anyone thinks at this point, there is simply no way to accurately assess the draft yet. It will be at least a couple of seasons before we can look back at this draft and make that determination. The bottom line is that we just have to hope that the Suns did their homework and drafted the players that they saw as the best fit going forward.

Ultimately, only time will tell.

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