Hornets add Carl Landry, sacrifice fan favorite

Published: February 22, 2011

Weeks ago Dell Demps told us that he was looking for a reliable, veteran big man to bring off the bench for the stretch run. On Tuesday night he accomplished that goal by finalizing a deal for Sacramento power forward Carl Landry. Landry, who is in his fourth year in the league, is having a down year based on the standard that he set last season, but is considered by most to be one of the most talented backup bigs in the NBA. This season he is averaging 12 points and nearly 5 rebounds in just over 26 minutes per game in his new role as a reserve for the Kings.

Of course, in the NBA, you have to give something to get something and in this case the Hornets had to give up the promising hometown hero Marcus Thornton. Thornton had long rumored to be on the trading block, as he did not seem to see eye to eye with first-year Head Coach Monty Williams due to their vastly different basketball philosophies. Thornton’s minutes have been sporadic all season, and with the improved play of Willie Green, MT5 became even more expendable in the eyes of Williams and Demps.

Thornton will be missed, but a reliable big man has been priority #1 since teams started to scout Jason Smith. Not only can Landry hit a 16-18 foot jumper, but he also offers the Hornets a post presence that they have not had from a big man since the days of Elden Campbell. Yeah, that’s right, I made an Elden Campbell reference.

After being acquired by Sacramento last season, Landry started all 28 games in which he played and averaged 18 PPG and 6.5 rebounds while shooting 52% from the field. The summer acquisitions of Samuel Dalembert and DeMarcus Cousins, coupled with the fact that both Jason Thompson and Omri Casspi get minutes at the power forward position, meant a reduced role for Landry, and because of that his play has suffered a bit this season.

Landry has thrived in the past when coming off the bench, most notably in his 3rd season with the Rockets in which he averaged 16 PPG and 5.5 rebounds in just over 27 minutes as a reserve. His first two seasons in the league were also incredibly efficient, as he shot nearly 60% from the field, averaged over 1.5 points per shot, and pulled in an average of 10 rebounds every 36 minutes.

The question is two-fold when it comes to the acquisition of Carl Landry:

1.) Is this down season just a result of him not having a clearly defined role on a bad team?

2.) Is Carl Landry merely a 4 month rental, or might he return next season?

The first question is hard to answer, and as you look at the advanced statistics, you actually see that his performance is not all that different from last season when he put up eye popping numbers. His individual offense rating and defensive rating are fairly similar, his offense rebounding percentage is up while his defensive rebounding percentage is slightly down, and his usage rating is almost exactly the same.

What can not be measured statistically is just how much more invested he might become playing for a contending team. One can only assume what it was like for Landry to go from playing in the playoffs his first two years to being shipped to a team that was clearly at the beginning stages of a rebuilding process. Perhaps he is on the decline, or the league has figured him out, but I find it far more likely that the Hornets will get the Carl Landry that terrorized opponents his first three years in the league.

As for the second question, it is far more likely that Landry is on another team next year than any scenario that ends with him being on the Hornets. Both he and David West will be free agents next offseason, and the Hornets will make every effort to bring David West back into the fold, meaning that Landry is more likely to get his next contract else where. If West does leave, however, Landry is not a bad consolation prize. Quite frankly, he is probably the guy that the Hornets would have pursued if they lost David West, so this could be a nice audition period for both Landry and the team.

It was clear to Dell Demps that Marcus Thornton was not part of this team’s long term plans, and so it was simply a matter of who this team needed more over the next four months- Thornton or Landry. In a market like this, where there are so few front court options available, Demps was smart to jump on Landry when he could. He knows that there at half a dozen quality shooting guards that could be had for a package of Marcus Banks, Jason Smith and/or Marco Belinelli, but it is hard to find a quality big man with an elite low post game in this league. So when Demps had the opportunity, he pulled the trigger, and because of it the Hornets are now a better team than they were yesterday.


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