Another reason for NBA free agents to pick contenders: lots more basketball

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Carl Landry is out up to four months, which means he's probably not playing any meaningful basketball this season. The difference in season lengths for lottery and playoff teams should be a major concern for free agents. Plus: R.I.P. Shumptop and more.

Carl Landry will miss up to four months after tearing his hip flexor in training camp. That'll put him out potentially through All-Star Weekend. Landry, 30, played with a contender last season, but took the money to join Michael Malone in Sacramento. When Landry signed in mid-July, there was little chance the Kings would make the playoffs this season. Chances are he could have signed a smaller deal with a better team and returned to the postseason.

But he landed in Sacramento. And now, the injury.

This is a strange side effect of free agent decisions we don't talk about too much. The postseason is famously long, two months for the best teams. Conference finalists get about six weeks of playoff action. Win just the first round, and you get an extra month.

Then there's the difference between playoff contenders and obvious lottery teams. If you're fighting for a playoff spot or expecting to make the postseason, the regular season ends in mid-April. If you're a sure lottery team, things start loosening up quite a bit around mid-February, after the trade deadline. A veteran like Landry who signs with a lottery club has a "season" of 3 1/2 months to look forward, with an extra two months of prospects getting extra burn and general malaise. Had he signed with a playoff contender, he'd have 5 1/2 of meaningful regular season and maybe a couple weeks to a couple months of playoff ball.

Now that he's out for the first 3 1/2 months of the regular season, it's a lost year for him. (Unless the Kings have a truly shocking rise, which .. yeah. Lost year.) He'll still come back, because he's not a slouch. And he'll play hard, because that's what Carl Landry does. But if he were with the Warriors, he'd come back to the playoff sprint and then the playoff run. No such luck in the lottery.

That's probably a consideration that players and agents make -- that choosing the contender, though it might be less lucrative in the immediate term, comes with a greater volume of meaningful basketball that lots of people (including scouts) watch. There's a real chance that like 10 people who aren't Kings fans will get to see Carl Landry play multiple games this season.


Photo by Brad Penner-USA Today Sports / Illustration by T.Z.

Iman Shumpert's awesome flat-top Shumptop passed away this weekend. It was 1 year old.

A veteran of the 2012-13 NBA season, Shumptop appeared in 22 games for the New York Knicks. It also contributed to the first playoff series victory for the Knicks in more than a decade.

Shumptop is survived by Norris Cole's awesome flat-top.


The aforemourned Shumpert is battling with J.R. Smith for the starting two-guard spot on the Knicks. This is notable because despite rampant injuries in the backcourt last season, New York coach Mike Woodson did everything in his power to keep Smith as a sixth man. Now, Woody may be conceding that there is no option but to use Smith in the starting five. The Knicks' problems in 2012-13 -- albeit for a 54-win team -- were on the defensive end, and Zach Lowe dug into that extremely well on Monday. Shump isn't a perfect defender by any means, but he's better than the erratic, unreliable Smith. By a long shot, in my estimation.

Here's the problem: Woodson doesn't think the defense was really a problem, despite it ranking No. 18 in the league. (See: Lowe.) Newsday's Barbara Barker has Woody's critique of Shump, which focuses on the side of the ball in which the Knicks ranked No. 3.

"Iman just has to figure it out. We've got to help him figure out his game that coincides with what we want to do. He's got to be able to play pick-and-roll offense. He's got to be able to run the team with the ball in his hands, because our 'ones' and 'twos' and 'threes' handle the basketball. There are a number of things."

This is a problem. The Knicks desperately need better defense more than they need better pick-and-roll offense from their starting two-guard. I mean, Carmelo Anthony still exists and Andrea Bargnani needs to eat. (Raymond Felton also runs a pretty mean pick-and-roll.) It may, however, work out in the long run. Smith is so bad playing in a team defensive scheme that having Tyson Chandler behind him could fix a lot of mistakes. Having Amar'e Stoudemire behind him, as might happen if Smith comes off the bench again (once healthy)? That's an even bigger problem for New York.


You can tell Rick Adelman is ready to push the Timberwolves as far as they can go this season because he's already questioning their commitment to the game three games into the preseason. This is classic Adelman. He's known as a players' coach, but that's more about the style of play he institutes, which is fairly care-free and flexible to the needs of the ballhandlers. Otherwise, he's a totally shrewd hardass who never misses an opportunity to grouse about lackadaisical attitudes.

He's like a Bizarro Larry Brown or Doug Collins. Brown and Collins would get so bothered by poor effort that they'd cease to function as normal humans. Adelman uses disappointment to pin the entire thing back on the players and wash his hands of it. He's content to tell his players that they suck, they aren't good enough to be lazy and survive and that they should probably think about trying something different. It's passive-aggressive as hell, but it tends to work. (His record speaks for itself.)

Reading the quotes linked above is a total flashback to the Peja-Bibby-Miller teams in Sacramento. (Flashbacks to that era are not exactly welcome.)

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