The new regime of the Sacramento Kings made one significant free agent signing this offseason. To the surprise of many, the Kings signed Carl Landry to a four-year, $26 million contract. The move was surprising for multiple reasons. The Kings already had a logjam at power forward, with Jason Thompson, Patrick Patterson, and Chuck Hayes under contract.
It was also somewhat surprising that Landry would want to return to Kings after his previous stint in Sacramento. Landry was often misused, being asked to space the floor rather than operating at the rim where he was most effective. Obviously Landry knew that there was a new regime in Sacramento, but the Kings weren't expected to be on Landry's radar.
Coming from Golden State, Landry leaves behind a situation where he came off the bench, had a defined role, and was being used appropriately. The coaching staff knew how to set Landry up for success. Landry averaged 10.8 points and 6 rebounds per game, almost exclusively as a bench contributor. And he did so with a fantastic True Shooting percentage of .605. So the question we now ponder is whether Landry can replicate that success. I see no reason why he can't.
It seems a fair assumption that Landry came to Sacramento, at least in part, because he knows and trusts Michael Malone as a coach. Malone and Landry are familiar with one another. Malone witnessed firsthand how effective Landry was last season in Golden State. There is no reason to believe that Malone will put Landry in a situation that doesn't utilize Landry's strengths.
The only roadblock to Landry's success is the logjam in Sacramento's front court. How Malone balances the rotation of Landry, Thompson, Patterson and Hayes can impact Landry's success. Unlike previous regimes, though, I believe Malone will identify defined roles for each player. So the only thing holding back Landry in this regard is his play and the play of others. He needs to earn his spot in the rotation.
Landry's numbers last season are strikingly similar to those of Jason Thompson and Patrick Patterson on a per game basis. Landry was a far more efficient scorer, but the raw numbers are similar. But on a per minute basis, Landry emerges. Per 36 minutes, Landry averaged 16.8 points and 9.3 rebounds, easily the best of Sacramento's power forwards. Landry played more minutes than Patterson last season, but fewer than Thompson. Landry had a slightly higher usage rate at 20%, compared to 17.6% for Patterson and 18.2% for JT.
Landry's ability to excel in a bench role, combined with his efficiency, indicate no reason to be concerned about his ability to thrive in Sacramento. He'll likely come off the bench, and seems likely to be paired with either Cousins or JT, as I imagine JT serving as reserve center regardless of whether he's in the starting line-up or not.
There are no indications of Landry having the issues he faced last time he was a King. He's paired with a coach who knows how to use him, and a coach who will have clearly defined roles. Landry has never been a player who struggled with understanding and accepting his role. Landry may not have been the splash that some Kings fans wanted in free agency, but he's stepping into a situation to provide reliable depth.
I still wonder about the length of Landry's contact as he'll turn 30 tomorrow (Happy Birthday Top Hat!), but for the immediate future there's no reason to expect a drop off in Landry's production.