PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns trimmed their roster on Monday by cutting guard Dwight Buycks and forward Jeremy Hazell from the squad and leaving forward Marcus Landry as the only remaining camp invitee.
Landry will travel to the first preseason game at Denver on Tuesday, according to a Paul Coro tweet, and though the Suns could use his rugged play and another body at the small forward position, he may have had another advantage in making the team through the shortened training camp.
“I played my first year with the New Knicks, that was coach (Mike) D’Antoni,” Landry said at Friday’s Media Day. “Of course, he was here (in Phoenix), great guy. I was traded to Boston. But to get here, you know, I guess they liked what I did in the D-League last year and the things that I did in the league. It’s a great experience and it’s going to be a great time.”
Undrafted out of Wisconsin, the 6-foot-7, 225-pound forward initially signed with D’Antoni’s New York Knicks as a rookie. There, he played 17 games off the bench before being traded to the Boston Celtics, who relegated Landry to the D-League for most of his time there.
The 26-year-old averaged 17.6 points and 4.4 rebounds with the Reno Bighorns of the D-League last season. Since, he was in Spain and France trying to find a home before the Suns called.
Landry averaged 2.4 points in just 6.2 minutes per game through a total of NBA 18 contests — he only saw one game of action with the Celtics — but his familiarity with D’Antoni’s structured yet shot-happy offense, although brief, made his quick transition to Phoenix all the more easy.
“The offense we run is similar to the offense I ran with D’Antoni,” Landry said. “That gives me an edge on some guys coming in and knowing the offense. As a team, we’ve been gelling.”
That advantage could even put Landry ahead of players like Shannon Brown and Ronnie Price as far as familiarity of the Suns’ system is concerned.
Brown has been adapting to the styles between former Lakers head coach, Phil Jackson, and Suns head coach Alvin Gentry.
“Phil is more laid back, he’ll sit in his chair and tell us what we need to do,” Brown said. “Coach Gentry is more active.”
Price came from the more rigid play-calling of Jerry Sloan in Utah.
“Utah, you knew where the plays were going. You knew pretty much who was going to take the shot on that play,” Price said. “With this Phoenix offense, because of the free motion, a lot of pick-and-roll … the ball is moving constantly.
“You’ve got to be on your toes, ready to make a basketball play, ready to shoot the ball at any given time,” he added. “It’s going to take some time for me to get accustomed to it.”
Now that Landry has made the team for the time being, the next few games will key upon proving he can bring something extra to Phoenix. On Saturday, he was one of the more aggressive players in a 3-on-3 fastbreak drill, showing a solid mid-range jumper and an attacking mentality that found himself on the floor a few times.
“You know, the game is about opportunity,” Landry said of his chances of sticking. “As long as you get an opportunity to showcase what you can do, you can do a lot. As long as you’re focused and your mind is in the right place — it’s all about winning — you’ll be good.”
More from Marcus Landry
(on advice he gets from brother Carl Landry of the New Orleans Hornets): “We talk a lot. His advice to me right now is one practice, one day at a time. Just been taking one day at a time, and trying to come out against this team and just trying to be able to contribute.”
(on which Suns’ big men are standing out): “All of them have been great. (Robin) Lopez has been great. Channing Frye, everybody. All the bigs have really surprised me in how good they are and how prepared they are. Everybody is in shape.”
(on playing with greats like Steve Nash and Grant Hill): “I try to take a lot from those guys. Especially guys like Grant Hill who’s been around a long time and who plays my natural position. Especially Grant Hill … ever since I got here, kind, down to earth guy.”
(on what type of player he is): “I feel like I’m somebody who can do a lot of things. I can play anything from the two to the four. It makes me very versatile.”