Carl Landry Wants to Win, Hopefully in Sacramento
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Carl Landry knows his time in Sacramento might be nearing an end.
But contrary to popular opinion, that isn't necessarily the way he wants it.
The Kings forward has been the subject of trade discussions for months now, with the logic behind such chatter two-fold. Despite the in-house hype that surrounded him after he was traded from Houston last February in the deal that sent Kevin Martin to the Rockets, the additions of DeMarcus Cousins and Samuel Dalembert in the offseason meant Landry might not be a building block in this castle after all.
Secondly, his looming free agency has made him a prime candidate to be moved, with sources insisting for months that Landry -- who's being paid $3 million in the final season of his contract -- had little-to-no interest in returning to Sacramento. The Kings, in turn, were faced with the option of getting something for him now rather than losing him for nothing in return later. Landry, however, doesn't see it that way.
"I love it here," Landry told me last week. "I love the city, love the community, definitely love the fans. Without a doubt (he would consider signing with the Kings this summer)."
But what of the persistent, league-wide buzz stating otherwise?
"Nah, that's not the case," the fourth-year player insisted. "Without a doubt, I wouldn't mind coming back to Sacramento. The only thing is I want to win, and it's not looking that way right now, so it is what it is.
"This organization needs to find a way to win. For the last few years, this organization has not had success at all. I want to win. I'm still a young player in this league, but I've had a little taste of success early and when you don't continue to (win), it's kind of tough."
And therein lies the rub.
At 10-32, the Kings are well on their way to posting a losing record for the fifth straight season. Yet while owners Joe and Gavin Maloof are virtually betting on the collective bargaining agreement being restructured in a way that would allow them to add free agents to their league-low payroll at a far more cost-efficient rate (i.e. a hard salary cap), Landry said that doesn't make the current losing excusable. Talent, he made clear, isn't the problem.
"We've got the talent," said Landry, who was drafted 31st overall by Seattle in 2007 out of Purdue and traded to Houston on draft night. "I don't care if they bring the No. 1 pick in here (this summer). That's not separating (us) from these wins and losses. It's the little things. We've got talent.
"I played on a team (the 2007-08 Houston Rockets) that won 22 games in a row and went to the playoffs, and this team has more talent than that team. We played without Yao (Ming) half the time (that season), played without Tracy (McGrady) the other half. We had young guys, who had only played in the league two or three years, just like this team. We've got talent. And if we find a way to put it together, the sky is the limit."
That was the feeling last February, too, when Landry averaged 18 points (52 percent shooting), 6.5 rebounds and 37.6 minutes in 28 games after coming to town. His role has been inconsistent this time around, though, with Landry averaging 12.4 points (48.9 percent shooting), 4.9 rebounds and 27.2 minutes.
"(This season) has been real tough, because I know what I can do on the court," said Landry, who is in the midst of his best scoring month yet this season (13.3 points per game on 54.6 percent shooting). "We've got a lot of bigs. And all of them can play. You flip a coin in the air, and they're all going to produce, from (rookie) Hassan (Whiteside) to me. Sam (Dalembert) can play, Jason (Thompson) can play, DeMarcus can play. So when you've got a team full of bigs who could start on any team in this league, it's just hard to divide the minutes."
Between now and the Feb. 24 trading deadline, Landry will continue trying to make the most of whatever portion of playing time comes his way.
"I have no idea (if he'll be traded)," he said. "I'm just rolling with the punches. When I get the opportunity to play, I'm out there trying to showcase my talent, not only for the Sacramento Kings but every team in the league. If I get traded, I get traded."
And if he doesn't, surprisingly enough, he might still be looking to stick around.
"At the end of the day, I want to be here and win, because the fans are unbelievable," he said. "If you can win here in Sacramento, it would be crazy. Even with us only winning nine games (at the time of the interview), there's never been a game where they booed us, where people stopped coming to the games (although they're second to last in the league in home attendance), where people stopped supporting us, on Twitter, on Facebook, on the radio. ... Who wouldn't want to play for a team where the fans support you when you're down? ... It's a great organization that has great upside. We just need to turn these losses into wins."