“One-hundred percent — I wanted to stay,” Len said in a phone interview this week. “I like the coaching staff. I liked my teammates. Everyone was cool. It really had a family feel to it. Last year, you could see the trajectory was going up. Everyone was getting better towards the end of the season. The way we started this season — I think the mistake we had was we had too many young guys. I didn’t think we had enough veterans and leadership on the team. This season didn’t work out as planned, so they had to make changes. It’s a business, so I understood they had to do it.” Schlenk didn’t give him an answer for why he traded Len for Dedmon. That caught Len by surprise because he could not foresee the Hawks bringing in another center when they had just acquired one. He didn’t understand the move for Atlanta because Schlenk didn’t want to commit long term to Dedmon last summer when his contract expired.
Len sat on the bench in a suit that night as his teammates were pulling away from the Timberwolves when Hawks security guard Vince Velazquez walked over to him. Before Velazquez could say anything, Len asked, “Where am I going?” Velazquez didn’t know, but as he escorted Len back to the Hawks’ locker room, he put Len on the phone with general manager Travis Schlenk, who told Len that he had been traded to Sacramento, along with Jabari Parker, for Dewayne Dedmon. The conversation with Schlenk was quick. He thanked Len for his time in Atlanta, and Len thanked Schlenk for giving him an opportunity to reinvent himself after his time in Phoenix. Len then gathered his things from his locker and walked across the street to the team’s hotel. When they got back after the game, he called some of the players he was close with and said his goodbyes at the hotel and shared a drink with members of the coaching staff at the hotel’s bar.