This is a season review for Carl Landry, he who showeth his biceps on many occasion, he who proveth to be one hell of a tenth hour signing by the Golden State Warriors last summer. But this is also a likely fare-thee-well to Landry, with the altogether expected news coming down yesterday that he's opted out of the final year of his contract, leaving $4 million on the table in favor of likely much more than $4 million on a much nicer table.
Landry is one of those paradoxical guys who you can simultaneously overvalue and undervalue — although at the $4M Bob Myers signed him for, even the most practiced of bullspitters couldn't hock the story that Landry wasn't worth every penny plus some. But still: Landry isn't perfect, and we'll talk about that.
But let's start back at the beginning — I mean, November. It's easy to forget what happened so long ago, what with the lovely stroll through the playoffs we just took. But back in November — we didn't really know what we had. We knew pretty quickly what we didn't have: Andrew Bogut, the apparent centerpiece (pun intended) of the team who was going to hold down the pivot defensively and free up the Warriors' many offensive weapons with his passing. Bogut only played four games before late January, leaving other GS bigs to carry more weight on their own shoulders.
Landry's shoulders proved to be ample. Through Oct-Nov, he averaged 19 points per 36 minutes, with a 64%TS and a bananas 120.5 ORtg. He came out like gangbusters and powered this team to an early 9-6 record, kind of setting the pace and expectations for a team that was looking for its identity.
Landry lived in the paint, giving two low post players with great ability to put the ball in the cup, a site mighty unfamiliar to Warriors fans. He found seams on the baseline for dunks, scored on isolations on the block, and drew fouls like a champ. He provided the balance that this perimeter-oriented team needed to keep teams honest. And he did much of it aside Lee in an undersized but potent frontline. The five-man lineup of Landry/Lee/Curry/Thompson/Jack was the third most used group on the season by coach Mark Jackson to pretty good effect, and Carl's contributions played no small part in that success. Team chemistry was so good this year, a winning mix, and I'm not sure if you can remove Landry as an ingredient and get the same taste.
Of course, it wasn't all peachy. As the year went on, Carl Landry's offensive impact certainly slowed down. Defenses shut the back door on him, forcing him into more isolations against taller players that made life much more difficult. Defensively he wasn't terrible, but Landry has never been a good rebounder for his position, and while he experienced his best rebounding season since his rookie year, he didn't quite elevate himself to world-beater status in that department. On the Warriors, he proved to be what he always has been: a very efficient scorer whose limited size and athletic ability make him about average at everything else.
I don't want to take anything away from Carl, though: this was the best season of his career, he worked his tail off, played to the best of his abilities, and was usually a lot of fun to watch. And he deserves more money than Myers plucked him for. If he can get that from another team on the free market, then all the power to him — personally, I'm hoping he goes to Indiana. That is, unless Myers blackmails Landry's agent again.
But no, that money is in the proverbial bank: we got what we were gonna get for that price, and it was great. Landry isn't coming back to the Warriors for $4 million, and anybody else we get for that price isn't like to be as good as Landry was this past season. Replacing Landry purely from a value perspective just isn't going to happen. The silver lining is that having a worse player in his place — or leaving his place entirely vacant — means more time for Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes at the power forward in small-ball formations, and I for one would like to know if that playoff lightning can be bottled.
I like Carl Landry. And I'm glad as hell that he was part of our team this season. Assuming he's moved on to greener cashtures, I think it's safe to say that he'll be missed. How much remains to be seen, but he was pretty damn good for this club, and let's not forget it.