Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 1/2/14
For the first time since a brief, failed November comeback, Len practiced with the Suns on the first day of 2014 and felt no discomfort in the left ankle that had limited him since the start of the season. “I was just excited to get out there,” Len said. “Happy New Year, baby. I’ve got to start 2014 with a new page. I’ve been waiting for this feeling for a long time.” Len said he probably is about 10 days away from being ready for game action but on Wednesday he was wearing one of his better smiles since draft night in June, when the Suns made him the fifth overall pick. Len spent the summer rehabilitating both of his surgically repaired ankles but the left ankle, operated upon in May, continued to be problematic after he was cleared for training camp. Len played in five preseason games and the first two regular-season games before being shut down to ease the ankle pain. When he resumed play, he lasted only five minutes in each of the Nov. 19 and Nov. 20 games to prompt a longer treatment plan. The athletic training staff had been increasing Len’s workload recently until he could practice Wednesday. “I felt good,” Len said. “I felt much stronger. For the past month and a half, I worked in the weight room really hard. Last month (in November), I got 29 lifts in 30 days. This month (in December), I got 31 lifts in 31 days. I worked really hard. I feel stronger. The ankle is still a little weak. I wasn’t putting a lot of pressure on my ankles. Otherwise, my body feels a lot stronger.” After so much down time, Len acknowledged that practice moved fast for him but that would have been true regardless for a 20-year-old who was not able to play in the NBA Summer League like most rookies. “I think he had a lot of pent-up energy,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek of Len’s Wednesday practice. “If he plays like that, it’d be great. He was moving really well. He made some nice shots. He’s been working on his strength with not having to worry about playing and he looked stronger out there, not getting banged around as much.” Len is like a midseason addition for a Suns team whose 19-11 success prompts speculation about adding a piece. Len, at 7 feet 1, can bolster the front line but he might not slide into a backup center role with how the Suns have established a style and rotation with Channing Frye or Markieff Morris playing backup center.
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