Missing half of the season due to injury was not part of the plan when the Sacramento Kings’ new regime made Carl Landry its first free agent signing back in July. After more than three months and close to 40 games missed, the veteran forward is finally making his way back into the Kings’ rotation.
It’s been a slow transition. Coach Malone and the medical staff have promised to take their time with the 30-year-old Landry, who suffered a torn left hip flexor during training camp. In his first four games back, he has logged just 66 minutes, and 26 of those came in Sacramento’s overtime loss to the Indiana Pacers last Friday. Landy has looked rusty and his legs look heavy, but that is to be expected after such a long break.
It will be a work in progress to fit Landry into the mix, but you can already see where the seven-year veteran can help the Kings as a low-post bench scorer. While Landry has been around the team for most of the season, he hasn’t really been available for media conversations. Here is Cowbell Kingdom’s one-on-one with one of the true gentlemen of the NBA.
CK: How anxious were you to get back out there on the court?
CL: When playing basketball your entire life is pretty much all you know… I went to college when I was 18 years old, and I pretty much took it as a job since 18. When you have an injury and you can’t go to work or perform the things that you do on an everyday basis, it becomes foreign, it become weird. And I think just being patient was the most difficult part of the whole rehab process.
You know, going out and the ball is bouncing, your teammates are communicating on both the offensive and defensive end and knowing that you can’t do anything. You can’t participate. You can’t be involved. You have to be patient and just rehab. That was probably the hardest part.
CK: Did you expect to play 26 minutes against the Indiana Pacers on Friday night?
CL: I don’t know. Probably not, but at the same time, I knew if my name got called, I was going to be ready. I spent the last three, three and a half months doing my best to prepare myself for a moment like that and I went out there and tried to help my team the best I could.
CK: Where are you at physically? Are you close to where you feel comfortable playing extended minutes?
CL: I don’t know. I probably wouldn’t be able to give you a percentage. It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s going to be a process. I wouldn’t say I’m a 100-percent, but if you look around the NBA right now, nobody’s a 100-percent. At this time, I just have to continue to take it step by step and hopefully, just play as healthy as I can throughout the season.
CK: This is your second go-around in Sacramento. What’s different this time?
CL: Stability. We have stability in ownership. We have stability with our GM and with our coaching staff. My teammates bought in. We’re trying to become a better team on the defensive end. Just changing our identity as a team. This is a whole different team from top to bottom. The only thing that’s the same is the number on the jersey.
CK: And DeMarcus (Cousins). Is he different from the last time around?
CL: Yeah, without a doubt. I think he’s a little bit more mature now. He’s trying to take on more of a leadership role. And you know, he’s a better player than he was before. I think that comes with time. He’s doing a good job of putting it together and if he continues to improve I think he will arguably be one of the best centers in this league.
CK: This is your third stop with coach Malone. What is that relationship like? How’s it been to work with him in New Orleans and Golden State and now here?
CL: It’s the same. That’s the good thing about coach Malone. He’s the same. Yesterday he was the same and the day before. And we all understand that. Sometimes with coaches, they’re up one day and down the next, but he’s always the same. He’s behind us 110 percent and that makes you want to run through a brick wall for a coach when you know that he has your back and you know he wants the best for you and your family.