Marcus Landry last appeared in an NBA game on Feb. 25, 2010. In the 1,239 days that have followed, he has become a basketball vagabond of sorts, talented but painfully short of cracking the rotation with another NBA team.
Landry, a former University of Wisconsin standout, has been to Maine and Reno, Nev., in the NBA D-League to keep his dream alive, followed by trips to Spain, China, Venezuela and back to Maine.
But players only possess so many good years before their bodies wear down, and the clock continues to tick for the 27-year-old Landry. That is why he’s hoping this summer will provide him the platform necessary to return to the NBA after a 3 1/2-year hiatus.
So far, he’s taking advantage of his opportunity.
In three summer league games with the Los Angeles Lakers, Landry is averaging 14.7 points and 4.3 rebounds. His point total ranks 19th among all players in the Las Vegas Summer League, and he produced his best game of the tournament on Monday during a 77-65 victory against the L.A. Clippers when he tallied 16 points and six rebounds in 29 minutes.
Afterward, Landry told NBA TV he had found a comfort level on the court that allowed him to perform at his best.
“I’ve been doing this for a little while now, and every time I come in I’m more comfortable,” Landry said. “This time around, I feel very comfortable. I got a lot of good advice from Ray Allen. He tells me shooters never stop shooting. So when I’m open, even if I’m missing, I’ve got to have the confidence to take that shot. And that’s what I’m doing here. (It was) not the best shooting performance that I want. But I’ve just been playing defense and that’s been carrying over to the offensive end.”
Landry, a 6-foot-7 forward, suffered a season-ending tear of the MCL in his left knee in March while with the Maine Red Claws of the D-League. Before the injury, he was named a 2013 D-League All-Star and also won the All-Star 3-point shooting contest. He was averaging 16.5 points and five rebounds in 35 games for the Red Claws and ranked fifth in the league in 3-point field-goal percentage (.428).
Landry is looking to stick with the Lakers once the summer league ends and hopes his previous relationship with head coach Mike D’Antoni will help in that regard.
Landry played 17 games under D’Antoni in New York during the 2009-10 season after earning a training camp invitation. He was then traded to the Boston Celtics and appeared in one more NBA game before being assigned to the Red Claws.
“As a player, you can’t control that,” Landry told NBA TV. “But we do have a good relationship. He really helped me out with my game when I was in New York as a young player, feeding me, giving me a lot of advice and helping expand my game. I just thank God for this opportunity to be with an organization like this again and being under Mike D’Antoni and (Lakers assistant coach) Dan D’Antoni. I’m very happy and excited.”
Summer league Badgers: Five other former Wisconsin players are competing in the NBA Summer League: Brian Butch, Mike Bruesewitz, Jordan Taylor, Jared Berggren and Ryan Evans.
Evans put together the best individual game among those players during his summer league finale with the Detroit Pistons on July 12. He started at shooting guard and scored 19 points off 7 of 15 shooting with five rebounds, two steals and one assist. Evans, who connected on just 42.6 percent of his free throws during his senior season, showed promise by making 3 of 4 foul shots. He also buried 2 of 7 3-pointers after making two all season for the Badgers (2 for 24).
Evans made 4 of 6 free throws and 3 of 13 3-pointers over four summer league games.
Butch averaged 6.7 points and 3.0 rebounds in three games for the NBA D-League Summer Select Team and plays a tournament game on Thursday. Last season, he averaged 12.7 points and 10.9 rebounds in 47 regular-season games for Bakersfield in the D-League.
“The biggest thing for me is to show that I’m more agile than people think,” Butch told NBA.com last week. “Obviously, I can stretch the floor and rebound.”
Berggren, another big man who can take defenders toward the perimeter, played two games with the Orlando Magic summer team and will finish out the summer session with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He tallied five points and four rebounds in 20 minutes in his final game with the Magic on July 12.
Taylor, who played last season in Italy, hasn’t scored in each of his last two games with the Toronto Raptors summer team but has a playoff game Thursday.
Bruesewitz, meanwhile, saw his first action of the summer league for the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday. He scored six points in five minutes, drilling both of his 3-point attempts.