Get well soon, Carl Landry. (Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images)
The Sacramento Kings announced Monday that Carl Landry will undergo surgery to repair a tear in his left hip flexor that the 29-year-old forward suffered during a recent training camp practice. He had yet to play in either of the Kings' two preseason games, owing to what the Kings had previously called a "strained quad." Apparently, the issue's a bit more serious than all that.
After the team announcement, Landry shared the news with his Twitter followers in a grin-and-bear-it fashion:
— Carl Landry (@CarlLandry) October 14, 2013
The six-year veteran will go under the knife in Philadelphia on Tuesday morning, and is "expected to miss approximately three to four months of action," according to the team; that would slot his return between mid-January and mid-February, meaning he's likely going to miss somewhere between 35 and 55 games. That, clearly, is not exactly what new Kings general manager Pete D'Alessandro and company had in mind when Sacramento signed Landry to a four-year, $26 million contract in the first week of free agency back in July.
The signing seemed a bit curious at the time, given the presence of incumbent power forwards Jason Thompson and Patrick Patterson alongside the center tandem of recently extended star DeMarcus Cousins and undersized veteran Chuck Hayes. But while Thompson's blend of solid rebounding and complementary scoring is nice (if routinely underappreciated and perhaps not the greatest fit alongside Cousins), and while Patterson's ability to space the floor from the 3-point line (44.4 percent from deep after coming over from the Houston Rockets in the Thomas Robinson trade, albeit on just 36 attempts) is too, the Kings clearly felt that Landry offered enough of an upgrade — both on the offensive end, where he's long ranked among the league's better post-scoring forwards, and in the locker room, where he's widely considered to be a pretty good egg and a reliable veteran presence — to be willing to pay him $6.5 million a year until he's nearly 34 years old.
You can understand the thought process, to some extent. For one thing, while the Kings scored like a top-10 offense after the All-Star break last season, they'd been a bottom-10 unit in each of the previous four seasons, and they haven't had a viable second-unit frontcourt scoring option since ... well, Carl Landry, who played 81 combined games in Sacramento between trades in the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons. Adding someone who can reliably get buckets and carry a reserve offense for stretches matters, especially for a team that has tended toward stagnation for most of the recent past.
Plus, Landry performed wonderfully for new Kings head coach Mike Malone last season while he was an assistant with the Golden State Warriors, putting up just under 11 points and six rebounds in 23 minutes per game off the bench, shooting 54 percent from the floor and playing an integral role in two of the Warriors' most frequently used and most effective five-man units when paired with All-Star David Lee and Golden State's vaunted floor-spacing shooting. Bringing in a player who's familiar with the sorts of things Malone likes to run on either end of the court could have helped the Kings' other bigs get up to speed on elements of the new system a bit faster, even though Landry himself's never been considered much of a defensive presence (to put it mildly).
From now until about the All-Star break, though, any such help will now have to come with Landry in a suit on the sideline or a voice in the locker room. Thompson's already in place up front and Patterson's likely to see the bulk of the cleared minutes, according to Yahoo Sports NBA columnist Marc J. Spears; the next few months will offer the team's two returning fours the chance to establish themselves as the clear No. 1 option in Landry's absence, and could afford the team the opportunity to suss out potential trade opportunities for either Thompson (whose remaining four years and $24.9 million isn't quite as onerous as it seems due to a partial guarantee in the final year) or Patterson (still on his 2010 rookie scale deal and a restricted free agent come year's end) if it's looking like Landry's return will come closer to the early end of the timetable, placing it several weeks before the Feb. 20, 2014, trade deadline.
As soon as the Kings added Landry, it seemed clearer that one of the team's big men would wind up being the odd man out; for now, unfortunately for the folks who just paid him, it's Landry himself.
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