NBA AM: Landry, Warriors Playoff Bound?
Senior NBA Writer & College Basketball Editor
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There was mutual interest between the Golden State Warriors and power forward Carl Landry since the early stages of free agency. Landry, a veteran with five years of experience, entered the week as the top free agent on the market. The Charlotte Bobcats were making a big push to sign him, but in the end the Warriors won his services with a two-year $8 million contract offer.
“Golden State was always a place that I had considerations of going to,” Landry said in an exclusive interview with HOOPSWORLD. “I didn’t know how long it was going to take to get the deal done and it finally got done. It’s a good fit. They have absolutely great fans. They have a good coach in Mark Jackson and general manager in Bob Meyers. There are a lot of good things going on there in Oakland.”
Although this is the time of year where every lottery team feels they have a chance to make the playoffs next season, the Warriors have legitimate reasons to believe they are a top eight team in the West now. Along with signing Landry, they kept guard Brandon Rush, acquired guard Jarrett Jack, drafted promising rookie Harrison Barnes and have center Andrew Bogut getting healthy.
“(Making the playoffs) is all they talked about,” Landry said. “When I talked over the phone and in person with them it was all about making the playoffs. I’m really excited about playing for a team where the fans are going to be behind you 110 percent and making that push for a playoff run. I’m excited and looking forward to the season.
“The Warriors haven’t been to the playoffs in 18 or 19 years but maybe one time so it’s been awhile since they went to the playoffs. That’s going to be the goal, to always get into the playoffs. It doesn’t matter what team I’m on. The goal is to get into the playoffs and see how far you can go when you can get there.”
With their roster vastly improved, the biggest question about the Warriors regards their head coach. Jackson went 23-43 last year in his coaching debut, but this season will be the true test of his abilities now that he has a healthy team capable of winning. His naysayers are quick to point to his lack of experience, which is a valid point. However, what most fail to recognize is that he has one of the most experienced assistant coaching staffs in the league.
“They’re really good,” Landry said. “Mark Jackson is obviously a player’s coach. I’m not saying he lacks in any area, but your staff has to pick up in the areas a head coach lacks and his coaching staff from top to bottom could possibly be head coaches in this league. They have really good coaches.”
If Jackson has the most amount of pressure on him, Bogut is a close second. The Warriors traded guard Monta Ellis, a fan favorite, for him despite the fact that he was injured. The anticipation to see him don a Warriors jersey will have been building up for over seven months by the time opening night arrives. Landry, too, can’t wait to see him out on the floor, especially while he’s on it as well.
“He’s one of the best centers in the league when healthy,” Landry said. “He can score, block shots, defend and pass. Obviously, he was the number one pick. He can do a lot. Having the opportunity to play alongside him and David Lee will be a great opportunity for me and a great experience.”
As much as Bogut should help open things up for Landry and make his job easier, Jack could have the biggest impact on him. The two became good friends over the last two years in New Orleans with the Hornets. Jack publicly campaigned for Landry as soon as he became a Warrior and Landry is happy to be his teammate once again.
“It’ll be really good going out there into a situation where I have someone alongside that I’m familiar with besides Mike Malone who was in New Orleans two years ago too,” Landry said. “They got a tremendous steal in Jack. He’s one of the best backup point guards in the league and he can start and still be one of the better point guards. He’s a good player. I’m looking forward to player with him again and making some things happen this year.”
Jack and Landry will be looked at as the captains of the Warriors’ second unit, which could be one of the league’s best.
“I think that bench is really deep and anytime you want to be a good team and go far in the playoffs you have to have a bench and that’s one of the things the warriors have now,” Landry said.
Landry’s deal has an out clause after the first year, but he’s not going into this season thinking that he could be on the move again next offseason. He’s actually hoping to be a Warrior for much longer than just two years.
“I’m a loyal type of dude,” Landry said. “If this situation works out right that’s the goal going into this year: to stay there as long as I can. I’ll represent the city of Oakland at a high level.”
Carl Landry’s Brother Marcus Next?
The only way this offseason could get better for Carl Landry is if his little brother Marcus finds a home in the NBA as well. Marcus, who went undrafted in 2009 after playing four years at Wisconsin, has spent time in training camp with the Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns, but has yet to make an opening-day roster.
“I think it’d be awesome,” Carl said. “My mom, dad, sisters and brothers would be proud to say we have two family members who play in the NBA. Marcus’ dream was always to play in the NBA. If he accomplishes that it’s a dream come true.”
Landry left Wisconsin with the reputation of being an undersized big man, but since then he’s proven to be anything but.
“He’s improved a lot,” Carl said. “At Wisconsin they had him playing I think a position that pretty much wasn’t his normal position, the 5 and 4. His natural position is a 2/3. So for him to adjust the way he did at Wisconsin and be as effective as he was was really good. But now he’s a great player. He pretty much should have made the Sacramento Kings, he was the very last cut and he was the very last cut again the following year with the Phoenix Suns. He’s right there on the verge of making it, he just has to keep working.”
Marcus has continued working and this summer he played with the Suns’ summer league team in Las Vegas to show the results. He averaged 11 points and three rebounds while shooting 44 percent from the field and 38 percent from deep. He played strong defensively and showed poise that stems from his previous summer-league experiences.
“I feel like I’m more comfortable,” Marcus said. “Entering my fourth year how comfortable I am is what helps me get out there and play the game the way it’s supposed to be played.
“I’m one of those guys that’s going to do what the coach wants to see. I’m not going to try to do too much. I’m going to go out there and do the things I know they want to see. I try to have that approach everywhere I go, every training camp I go to. I know they want to see me run the floor, knock down open shots and play defense.”
Also helping Marcus feel more comfortable was the presence of his brother, Carl, for his first two games.
“It’s always good,” Marcus said of having his older brother there to cheer for him. “He’s been a great mentor, brother and leader. Last year he was here I was kinda nervous but he’s here and he’s here to support me so it’s good.”
Marcus is currently in the process of deciding whether or not he’ll accept a training camp invite in the NBA or continue playing professionally elsewhere overseas.
Lakers Looking At C.J. Miles
According to Brian T. Smith of The Salt Lake Tribune free agent forward C.J. Miles is nearing a decision on his next destination and the Los Angeles Lakers are at the forefront. Smith reports that the Lakers have made offers of one and two years to Miles, likely for the mini-mid level of $3 million.
Miles would give the Lakers the experienced backup shooting guard and small forward that they are currently lacking. Miles averaged nine points and two rebounds a game last year, but missed the last month of the season due to injury. In 2010-11 Miles had a career year, averaging 13.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists.
The Lakers are just one of a handful of teams Miles is considering. He’s expected to make his decision before the end of the week.
Up Close With Jared Cunningham
Unfortunately for Dallas Mavericks rookie guard Jared Cunningham, he was injured and unable to participate in the Las Vegas Summer League. However, he still attended and gave his thoughts on his teammates’ play, an update on his health and insight on what the coaching staff wants to see from when healthy in this exclusive interview with HOOPSWORLD.
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