Landry expected to practice Thursday

Wednesday, February 23, 2011
By: Jim Eichenhofer,

UPDATE: Carl Landry did not practice Thursday, waiting for the completion of Marcus Thornton's physical with the Sacramento Kings.
During his Wednesday pregame talk with the local media, first-year Hornets coach Monty Williams said trade pickup Carl Landry was on a flight en route to New Orleans, in order to be ready to practice with the team Thursday. After tonight’s home game against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Hornets’ next game is Friday at Minnesota, so that would potentially mark Landry’s debut. Here is a recap of some of the most noteworthy quotes from Williams' chat with reporters in the arena:

Monty Williams on what Landry can provide:
“He’s physical. We didn’t have a physical presence coming off of our bench. Carl is the kind of guy who can give you 10 to 12 points every night, with the time on the floor. He shoots the ball better than people give him credit. He’s going to have to work at defense for us, and the way we play defense. That will be the first thing I stress to him when I meet with him. But we didn’t have the punch off the bench with our bigs that we would like. He gives us that.”

On whether team was willing to sacrifice punch Marcus Thornton provided off the bench:
“The punch he gave us wasn’t consistent. When you can’t bank on something, it’s hard to know which guy you should play. (It was a situation of) should I play Marco? Should I play Marcus? Neither one of those guys have been consistent this year. It’s going to be tough not having Marcus. He was a guy that I could go to in tough situations. (But) my backup bigs certainly needed a lift. It was one of those situations where to get some talent you had to give up some talent.”

On whether Hornets felt urgency to make a trade:
“Not that we had to make a move, but if you think about it, we hadn’t gotten that punch off the bench since late December, when we were really playing well. We’ve tried to piece meal it here and there, but with Emeka out, it’s been really tough. We’re certainly not trying to put all (of the) pressure on Carl, but we certainly think he can help us.”

On what positions Landry will play for Hornets:
“The good thing is, with his skill set, I think he can play with both David and Emeka (at power forward or center).”

On chances of Hornets re-signing Landry, a free agent in upcoming offseason:
“We don’t know. You’d like to think that he’ll come here, be comfortable and like playing with a guy like Chris Paul and David (West), and like what we’re trying to do here. But you don’t know.”

On keys for Marco Belinelli as he becomes primary backup shooting guard:
“He has to defend better, without question. His defense has slipped. His shooting the ball has been inconsistent. But that position for us has always been by committee. We're going to look at the production we get out of him and Willie (Green).”

Okafor return questionable vs. Clippers

Update: At 4:15 p.m., the trade of Marcus Thornton for Carl Landry was officially announced by the Hornets.
The numbers couldn’t be much clearer on the importance of having Emeka Okafor in the New Orleans lineup. The Hornets have gone 2-7 in the month of February without their starting center, after compiling a 31-18 mark through the end of January. Okafor’s return to action appears to be getting closer, but it was uncertain Wednesday morning whether that will take place this evening at home against the Los Angeles Clippers (8:30 p.m., ESPN).

Okafor participated in a full practice for the first time in over three weeks on Tuesday, but he is not 100 percent. He’s missed nine games with a left oblique strain, after appearing in all 82 games last season as well as the first 49 of 2010-11. “We’re going to have to play tonight by ear,” the 6-foot-10, 255-pounder said. “I’m taking the proper steps to make sure that I can do everything (and have) full range of motion. It’s not going to be 100 percent pain-free; I’m just trying to get it to a point where it’s safe to go.”

In other news from Wednesday at the New Orleans Arena:
Marcus Thornton was held out of shootaround Wednesday. According to Monty Williams, the second-year guard stayed home due to a “trade (that) is pending right now.” Williams: “We decided it would be best for him to not come to the arena,” partly so that Thornton would not have to address the media while his status is being determined. Williams added that no other Hornets player was held out of shootaround for the same reason.

Asked whether the Hornets are anxious to improve their depth, Williams nodded, saying "our bench has been one of the worst in the league. The numbers prove it. It puts a lot of pressure on our starters to get leads, maintain leads and pull out games." Williams cited Denver's outstanding bench performance Tuesday vs. Memphis as an example of a team's depth paying off in a victory. The Nuggets were shorthanded due to the multi-player Carmelo Anthony deal.

More from Williams on Thornton: "To me, Marcus and I have had a great relationship since Day 1 that I signed here. I was with him in summer league. We talked not only about on-court stuff, but also off-the-court stuff. He's improved in areas that don't show up in the stat sheet. To me, I feel good about that (with) him moving forward. There were some defensive lapses, but he wasn't the only one. I'm well aware of the guys who haven't been on point with our defense. So I'm never going to put all of this on one guy. It's unfair to Marcus, for him to get all of this undue (criticism). Marcus has improved from Day 1. He's a guy who has value all around the league and is going to play for a long time."