Carl Landry was a deal-breaker for Kings

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Following the flurry of activity that took place at yesterday’s trade deadline, it’s inevitable that we dissect where each team went wrong, declare some the “big winners,” and reminisce over what could have been as we pore over the details of trades big and small.

What if Miami really had traded for Carlos Boozer? What if the Bobcats had completed a regrettable deal with the Pacers that brought back T.J. Ford and Brandon Rush in exchange for D.J. Augustin, Gerald Henderson, and Nazr Mohammed? What if the Knicks hadn’t given away just about every significant asset in their possession to shed the contract of Jared Jeffries? Or, perhaps the most relevant, what was stopping your team from trading for Kevin Martin with whatever sizable expiring contract was sitting in the franchise’s coffers?

The headline-grabbers in yesterday’s three-way trade between the Knicks, the Rockets, and the Kings are undoubtedly Martin and Tracy McGrady, but the latter has more utility as an expiring contract than he’s had as a player. So on paper, the Rockets only stood the same chance to steal away Martin as any other team with a big enough expiring contract…right?

Kind of. From Sam Amick of the Sacramento Bee:

With all due respect to former Rocket Joey Dorsey and former New York Knick Larry Hughes, Landry is the reason Kevin Martin was sent to the Rockets in a three-team, nine-player deal that was formalized Thursday. He is the sort of impactful forward they had been seeking, undersized at 6-foot-9 but overachieving in every way during this, the best of his three seasons. He is averaging 16.1 points (54.7 percent shooting) and 5.5 rebounds off the bench. Landry was the point of inspiration for Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie, who hid his willingness to move Martin from most league executives until the trading deadline’s 11th hour but jumped at the chance to land the gritty, athletic big man.

Look, the expiring contract matters; Martin was owed $34.6 million over the next three seasons, and the Kings took back only one $3 million team option that extends beyond this season. But the real catalyst in this trade is the underrated Landry, a tough power forward that could cement the Kings’ front-court rotation for years to come. It seems more and more that this deal wasn’t done to clear away cap space or save money, but to acquire Landry.