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April 28, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors power forward Carl Landry (7) celebrates after a defensive stop against the Denver Nuggets during the second quarter in game four of the first round of the 2013 NBA playoffs at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Carl Landry Interested in the Blazers

Golden State power forward, Carl Landry, opted out of his contract with the Warriors last week to test the free agency waters and he thinks the Blazers would be a good fit. This isn’t just another whisper at the rumor mill, it came straight from the horse’s mouth. Landry told Chris Haynes of CSNNW that:

“Portland is a team that has been interested for a while and the feeling is mutual. Their fans are unbelievable, like the Warrior fans. They sell out every game. They have a good franchise player in L.A., Damian, Wes, Nic, and Meyers Leonard is a good player. Their GM, Neil Olshey, is making all the right moves. They are headed in the right direction.”

I like to think Landry has a good eye, and that he knows potential when he sees it. The Blazers need another forward that can back up LaMarcus Aldridge so the Blazers don’t wear him down again. However; I’m concerned with the price. Portland has about $12 million to spend in free agency this year and Landry’s previous contract was worth $4 million for the 2013-2014 season. If he wants more than that, the Blazers will have to spend almost half of their money on a player that does not meet their most urgent need (center).

Let’s say the Blazers get him for $5 million. That is about the best they could hope for. Despite my hesitance, Landry would be a fantastic pickup. Landry has six years of experience under his belt, through which his per 36 minute averages have included 17.4 points and 7.8 rebounds. That is the kind of efficiency the Blazers need on the bench; where Landry would be happy to fill in:

“I’m a player. It doesn’t matter where I play or when I play. I’m a player that can help a team win games. When L.A. needs a sub, I got him. I’m just grateful for opportunity to play basketball. As long as I’m being productive, that’s all that matters to me.”

So what would Landry bring to the team? Well, imagine JJ Hickson playing at his natural position. There’s a little more scoring, a little less rebounding, and a lot more fluidity. Hickson is 6’9”, 242 lbs, while Landry is 6’9”, 248 lbs. For all intents and purposes, the frame is the same. However; Landry is a much more capable shooter. His midrange jumper is enough to keep defenders on their toes, because he is a threat outside the paint as well.

If the Blazers are able to sign Landry to a contract worth $5 million this year (and likely another year or two at the same value), they would have $7 million to spend elsewhere this summer. That’s respectable, but it doesn’t buy much depth. A lot depends on how much faith the Blazers have in their most recent wave of draft picks. If they think McCollum, Crabbe, and Withey can hold down the fort in the secondary, they may be comfortable enough to sign Landry and pursue just one more big free agent.

The Blazers new depth chart would look something like:

PG: Lillard | McCollum
SG: Matthews | Crabbe | Barton
SF: Batum | Claver
PF: Aldridge | Landry | Freeland
C: Leonard | TBD FA | Withey

If they could squeeze in another decent small forward, I could see this working. This isn’t the first time the Blazers have expressed interest in Landry’s services. Two years ago, Landry wanted to be a Blazer and they offered him the full mid-level exception. Being a business man, though, he took a deal with New Orleans worth $8.5 million for one season (frankly, I would have too). Now he’s back on the free agent market and his desire to play for the Blazers is still there.

Whether Portland signs him or tells him to politely “jog on” there is one major takeaway from all this: Quality players are interested in Portland this year. Ladies and gentlemen, get ready. Free agency begins tonight and the Blazers are rarely in such a lucrative position. There will be some new faces in Rip City soon enough.

Tags: Carl Landry Free Agency Portland Trail Blazers

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