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Rockets Don't Free Carl

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And rightfully so, although it may have cost the team more than it would have liked.

Just three days ago, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey told Jonathan Friedman of the Rockets' official site, "With Carl [Landry], we have a fair offer out there and we're hoping he takes it."

A day later, said offer's fairness or lack thereof went out the window when the Bobcats offered the restricted free agent forward $9 million over three seasons.  Stalemate over, decision-making process just beginning for the Rockets - and then ending just as quickly.

The Houston Chronicle reported Thursday that the Rockets have in fact matched Charlotte's offer and will retain the second-year forward.  This is good for them, good for him and good for observers of the game.

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The upshot for Landry is evident enough.  He is now going to be a considerably richer man than he was when he made $427,000 and change last year, and he also won't have to worry about slowing the start to his season with a training camp holdout.  He'll get to stay in the familiar setting in which he played his rookie year and won't have to uproot himself from a contender to a franchise that can't be 'rebuilding' because it has yet to build anything for the first time.

The Rockets did of course pay more than they wanted to for Landry, but it ultimately might have been best simply for the team to gain closure with their steal from the second round of the 2007 draft.  Sophomore seasons are tough enough for many young players, and the last thing the Rockets needed was for a Landry holdout to become a distraction to a team that believes it is primed for championship contention.  The team also is going to need all hands on deck from start to finish, so having the youngster back on board and ready to go for when camp starts is crucial.

For the sake of both the Rockets and for the folks who simply enjoy watching basketball, this is sort of player that big-time teams need to have.  The 6-foot-9, 248-pound forward demonstrated in his maiden campaign in the league that he has the classic traits of a 'little things' guy.  He can do a bit of everything.  In less than 17 minutes per game last year, Landry averaged 8.1 points and 4.9 boards (17.3 and 10.5 per 36 minutes), and he coupled that production with 61.6 percent field-goal shooting.  The man is a tenacious offensive rebounder and the type of scrappy player who will fight for every loose ball, get his garbage baskets and be content to play team-oriented ball on both ends of the floor all the time.  When he was on the floor, Landry gave the Rockets a big energy boost with hustle all over the court and his rugged play.  It seemed as though he was constantly throwing down in traffic against bigger players or coming up with a big defensive play at just the right time, such as his block of Deron Williams' shot to preserve a playoff win in Utah.

This is the sort of player who can play a valuable spark plug role on a contending team.  It would have been unfortunate to see his hard work devoted to a Charlotte team that may get better this season under Larry Brown but still isn't going anywhere all that quickly.  Seeing Carl Landry keep on doing those 'little things' as the now three-starred Rockets try once more to live up to championship aspirations should be a pleasure.  If he can keep his knees healthy, his heart will make him a joy to watch out west once more.

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