A couple of weeks ago, I started on a column looking at the best free agents remaining on the market. Ben Gordon was the biggest name still unsigned, but the value-to-hype ratio favored Houston forward Carl Landry, whose free agency had been very quiet until he signed a three-year offer sheet with the Charlotte Bobcats yesterday. Before the ink was even dry, the Rockets quickly moved to match the deal.
Unless the protracted negotiations have a major long-term effect on Landry’s relationship with the Rockets — and he told the Houston Chronicle, “When I found out Houston matched I was really excited,” so that doesn’t seem to be the case — this all worked out very nicely for GM Daryl Morey and company. Houston gets Landry back at the very reasonable price of about $3 million per year over a three-year team, with an option on the third year.
There was some dissension between the Rockets and Landry’s camp over the concerns Morey aired about Landry’s knee. There’s legitimate reason to be concerned — Landry tore his right ACL in college and missed seven games last year with a sore knee — though surely Morey didn’t mind putting some doubt in the mind of other suitors. While Morey acknowledged some risk yesterday, with only two years guaranteed the Rockets are largely insulated from it.
In my uncompleted column, I suggested that some team ought to do what the Bobcats did in signing Landry to an offer sheet. There’s really no downside. Had Houston not matched out of luxury-tax concerns, Charlotte would have a valuable asset. In this scenario, the Bobcats have lost nothing. While there’s a downside of having an offer sheet out there for a week and having money tied up during the heart of free agency, by this point the Bobcats are probably going to eat their mid-level exception and the Rockets matched quickly anyway. An offer sheet like this can also help curry some favor with an agent that can come in handy somewhere down the line.