Gortat won’t let young centers take job
by Paul Coro, USA TODAY Sports
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Phoenix Suns center Marcin Gortat already has looked ahead at the February trade deadline and July free agency and surmised his departure from Phoenix.
The 29-year-old center has looked behind him and seen a 20-year-old first-round pick and 25- and 26-year-old summer acquisitions and thought about how he was once like them when he backed up Dwight Howard in Orlando three years ago.
“Now, I’ve got three young stars coming to the practice to try to beat me up,” Gortat said. “We’re all fighting for bread. We’re all fighting for milk. I’m not going to let anybody take my job. I’m going to come here and fight these guys just like I fight everybody else. I never backed down from Dwight. Trust me, I’m not going to back down from none of these three guys.”
Oh, they know. They feel it daily.
The backup center situation is intriguing. Alex Len, the No. 5 pick in June, appears to be the future but he is young and coming off injury. It leaves a window for Miles Plumlee, considered a key part of the Luis Scola trade with Indiana, to show the promise he flashed in summer league. Behind them, the sturdy, shot-blocking Slava Kravtsov lingers, trying to show he can be athletic enough to help Phoenix.
Coming off two ankle surgeries this year, Len began playing full-court games last week during voluntary workouts in Phoenix but he has not been held out of any work.
“Alex has done a great job of pushing through this,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. “For a ‘big’ that size and as much as we want to run, that gets tough. He’s winded quite a bit and that affects some of his shots when he does get the ball inside but he’s had some nice moves. He’s working every day to get better. I think he’s improved, obviously with conditioning, over these four days but also with being able to pick up the offense.”
Len said his conditioning has felt better than his strength, which he believes is two weeks away from being up to speed.
“The ankles are feeling good,” … [For more on Marcin Gortat won't let young Suns centers take his job, click here.]