Every day is a new adventure for Carl Landry. The Sacramento Kings big man rises out of bed and comes to work with no guess what’s in store.
“It’s a 48-minute game and it doesn’t matter when you’re in or when you’re out,” Landry told Cowbell Kingdom before the team’s eight-game road trip. “You got to be effective and help your team out as much as you can.”
For much of his NBA career, Landry had a defined role. After getting drafted 31st in 2007 and earning his due with the Houston Rockets, he joined the Kings at the 2010 trade deadline and became a full-time starter. Landry retained his starting job after a trade to New Orleans replacing an injured David West, and he emerged as the Warriors’ first big off the bench in their breakout 2012-13 campaign.
In the open market, Landry rejoined Sacramento in July 2013 with a four-year, $26 million deal as general manager Pete D’Alessandro’s first free agent acquisition. The 6-foot-9, 250-pounder proceeded to play only 18 games in a year derailed by major hip and knee injuries.
This season, the eight-year veteran came into training camp healthy and hungry as ever. His revitalization couldn’t secure a spot as the starting four, however, but the bruiser once again became a key cog of the second unit. Under head coach Michael Malone, Landry averaged 19.1 minutes and dropped in 8.1 points on over 50 percent shooting as the bench’s primary interior scorer.
When Tyrone Corbin replaced Malone on December 15, Landry’s minutes saw a drop of more than two per game, and he missed a five-game stretch with a sprained wrist in mid-January.
With the introduction of George Karl, Landry started in the coach’s debut versus the Celtics, but never subbed back in after the first five minutes. The power forward came off the bench and logged a total of 16 minutes over the next two contests, and then started another two. He earned garbage time in the following pair of games, before recording two straight DNP’s.
Then out of the blue, he started in place for Jason Thompson in Monday’s loss to the Hawks.
As Karl gets an idea of what tools he has to work with, Landry will have to take his lumps. While still-developing forwards Derrick Williams and Omri Casspi are worth an expanded look, the 31-year-old is a proven commodity and not a priority to play in another lottery-bound Kings schedule. Landry understands his situation.
“You’ve got to be professional,” Landry affirmed. “You just got to know that one day your name is going to be called and you got to find a way to stay ready. Given an opportunity, you got to make the best of it, no matter if it’s five minutes or 35 minutes. That’s been my role for the majority of the season. Not to start or come off the bench, but to produce. It doesn’t matter.”
Meanwhile, Landry has focused on staying prepared, which begins and ends with his health. Since the departure of Malone, the Kings have made an emphasis to increase the pace of the offense, but the veteran’s legs have held together.
“I’m doing a really good job of staying in the training room. With the training staff we have here, they’ve done an amazing job of doing maintenance and doing things to keep me from keeping sore throughout the season.”
Sitting or starting, coaches can expect Landry to bring his A-game. With two years left on his contract, his diminished role this season has no bearings on his goal to help the Kings for the immediate and near future.