Carl Landry played for the Kings last season, but it feels like he’s one of the team’s new acquisitions because he was nearly invisible a year ago.
Landry’s 2013-14 season was essentially over before it started when he tore his left hip flexor during training camp. He returned to the team, but he wasn’t himself, and his season was officially ended with season-ending knee surgery after 18 games.
Landry continued to impress this preseason with a solid performance Monday night with 15 points and seven rebounds in the Kings’ 106-99 loss at San Antonio.
“I’m getting better,” Landry said. “That’s all I can ask for. I can’t give you a time where I’m going to feel like I’m 110 percent, but I have to continue to keep working, and that’s what I’m trying to do every day.”
Medically, Landry is healed and cleared. But getting his mind right is also a process.
Landry had never missed so much time in his career because of injury and the process has been taxing – physically and mentally.
“You have to trust that’s what’s been repaired, what you worked so hard to fix and repair over the offseason to get back to the norm,” Landry said. “Eventually, once you get there, you take the next step, and I think that’s feeling like you’re 100 percent again. So I definitely think no matter what the injury is, a big part of it is mental.”
The Kings are relying on Landry to be a big part of their improvement this season. When he’s at his best, Landry is a dependable scorer and his time with coach Michael Malone in New Orleans and Golden State makes him someone the coaching staff can trust to execute the game plan.
Malone said Landry finding his “coolness” on the court is key.
“I think the big thing for him is mental, getting that confidence back,” Malone said. “The more he’s able to have an impact on the game, I think it gives him that confidence. Sometimes he’s matched up against a stretch four, whether it was (Brooklyn’s Mirza) Teletovic in China or Austin Daye (Monday), which is a tough cover for him. I do see his confidence growing in him into the Carl Landry that we signed a year ago.”
Aggression welcomed – Malone does not want DeMarcus Cousins piling up turnovers as he’s done lately.
The Kings’ center has 19 over the past two preseason games, nine coming on offensive fouls. All five of Cousins’ fouls against the Spurs were offensive.
“I think some of those offensive foul calls are tough calls,” Malone said. “He’s trying to establish deep post position and guys are taking the hit. I like how he’s being aggressive instead of trying to catch the ball out on the perimeter, he’s trying to get deep post position. Obviously, he knows it and we know it, 10 turnovers (Monday) and nine turnovers the last game is not what we need or can have from him.”
Finding rest – The Kings’ travel schedule this preseason has forced Malone to alter his practice routines.
The Kings will play only two preseason games in California and didn’t have their usual exhibition contests in Los Angeles or Oakland against the Warriors.
Malone said he was “exhausted” after the team’s trip to China and had more of a mental workout for the team Sunday knowing they had to be drained after playing and traveling.
Malone also gave the team Tuesday off.