Sunday Musings: What to do with Carl Landry?


As the Golden State Warriors march through the NBA playoffs, perhaps on their way to their first championship in 40 years, the Sacramento Kings are forced to sit back and wonder, what if?

What if Geoff Petrie had selected Stephen Curry over Tyreke Evans?  What if a year later he had selected Klay Thompson over Jimmer Fredette or Harrison Barnes over Thomas Robinson a year later.

We aren’t talking about things that were out of the Kings’ control.  In fact, we are talking about players taken soon after each of their selections in the draft.  We are also looking at players that play similar positions or would have fit a need in the case of Barnes.

It’s brutal to think what might have been.  All of these assets could have been added to DeMarcus Cousins, not instead of the Kings cornerstone.  Even if one of these pieces were added, the ripple effect could have been substantial.

A deeper look back at these decisions may cause someone to consider moving their fandom to the Bay Area.

Compounding these mistakes is a glaring situation that the new organization in Sacramento created itself.  While the Warriors sat back and waited for draft day mistakes from the Kings, Vivek Ranadivé and Pete D’Allesandro stole away one of the W’s prized free agents and now they are paying the price.

The addition of Carl Landry was the new regime’s first free agent acquisition, and they were so excited that they invited the media to the signing of his contract in a Las Vegas board room.  That excitement has been dulled substantially at this point.

Landry underwent successful wrist surgery on Tuesday and is expected to miss four to five months of action.  His summer program is officially over, and he is out until October at the earliest and may miss regular season time.

This isn’t the first issue Sacramento has had with Landry since signing him to a four-year, $26 million deal.  The 31-year-old forward tore a hip flexor before playing a single regular season game in year one.  Once he returned from injury, he played in a total of 18 games before injuring a knee and missing the remainder of the season.

Injuries happen.  Multiple injuries happen as well, especially when we are dealing with leg injuries.

Landry played a total of 70 games in year two, missing five contests in January while dealing with the wrist ailment that has now shelved him for the foreseeable future.  But the return on investment has been modest to say the least.  Landry never really got his legs under him in his eighth NBA season.  Gone were the patient post moves and lateral quickness.  The veteran was a shell of his former self and may never play to his super-sixth-man level again.

The former Purdue star did a solid job of reinventing himself as a floor spacing, perimeter set shooter.  He has yet to develop a corner 3-ball and has no chance to guard stretch fours, but he’s working with what he has left.

Landry started a total of 15 games in the 2014-15 season, totaling 7.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in 17 minutes a night.  But once George Karl took over the team at the All-Star break, those numbers took a steady nose dive.  Landry drew six DNP-CDs and missed another contest for leaving the bench during a skirmish.

Finding a way to integrate star center DeMarcus Cousins into Karl’s offense was tough.  Doing the same for a plodding Landry was off the table in the season’s final 30 games.

With his latest setback, a question is now developing.  Where do the Kings go from here with Carl Landy?

In the harsh world of the NBA, Landry is unmovable.  The Kings can try to find a taker in a larger deal, but he’s on the wrong side of 30, has a series of injuries and is owed another $13 million.

While it isn’t an ideal situation, the Kings may need to look long and hard at using the NBA’ stretch provision and spreading Landry’s contract over five years.

In case you aren’t familiar with the stretch provision, a team can waive a player and stretch his remaining salary over two times the length of the remaining years, plus one more year (2 years remaining x 2 + 1 = 5 years).

Basically, Sacramento can spread Landry’s $13 million cap hit into five seasons $2.6 million per.  It’s a long term move, but one that may make a lot of sense with the NBA’s salary cap explosion next season.

Landry’s current salary structure:

Seasons Salary NBA Salary Cap Percentage of Cap
2015-16 $6.5 million $67.1 million 9.7 percent
2016-17 $6.5 million $89 million 7.3 percent

Landry’s salary structure under the stretch provision:

Seasons Salary NBA Salary Cap Percentage of Cap
2015-16 $2.6 million $67.1 million 3.8 percent
2016-17 $2.6 million $89 million 2.9 percent
2017-18 $2.6 million $108 million 2.4 percent
2018-19 $2.6 million $100 million 2.6 percent
2019-20 $2.6 million $102 million 2.5 percent

Normally we wouldn’t suggest such a dramatic salary dump, but the changes coming to NBA salary structure make it an interesting proposition.  The Kings are in rebuild-now mode.  They need every stitch of salary cap space they can afford and moving on from Landry would instantly create another $3.9 million in cap space this offseason and next.

Landry is a very good teammate and a solid locker room contributor.  But he is also untradable on the open market.  He doesn’t fit the current uptempo style and his skills are clearly diminished.

His NBA career isn’t over, but the Kings may have no choice but to move on from the veteran.  Once healed, he would find plenty of interest on the open market as a spot bench scorer, and his leadership would work well for a contending playoff team.

The Kings have too many holes to fill and the savings from Landry’s contract may provide the cash flow to make an extra move or two.