Landale says playing with Booker, Durant helped him find NBA identity
Jul 5, 2023, 9:06 PM
(AP Photo/Darryl Webb)
In late June, the Phoenix Suns extended a contract offer for next season to Jock Landale and most fans were happy.
Then came the surpising reality: He would not be back for a repeat run at a championship. Instead, he would be signing a multi-year deal for more than $30 million with the Houston Rockets.
About a week later, Landale sat down for a talk with ESPN Australia and gave a bit of insight into his experience with the Suns last season and why he went to the Rockets.
Even though the 4-year, $32 million contract is only guaranteed in the first year, Landale said the motivation to actually play out the contract by playing hard and with consistency is something that motivates him.
“Given it’s not guaranteed there is no ability for me to take my foot off the gas and I think that is really, really important and it kind of plays into my character a bit. I’ve still got to earn everything,” he said.
Regarding his departure from Phoenix, he said when the Rockets contacted his representatives with years and dollars more than double what other teams had offered, it was a no-brainer.
“I felt as though I had worked my way into when I played and when I played heavy minutes I always produced and I was like, if I can get the trust of a coach who has the front office behind him, or me, and they are all kind of supporting that decision, absolutely I believe I can play to that contract,” he said.
He said knowing he was ensconced behind a max player in Deandre Ayton gave him a predictable target of about 15 minutes a night when he joined the Suns last offseason. He added the numerous injuries and trades the Suns went through last season put the entire roster on a bit of a roller-coaster ride.
“Having a quality guy like Biz (Bismack Biyombo) right beside me, it became about what is best for the team,” Landale said.
While he won’t be suiting up for the Suns and playing with Kevin Durant and Devin Booker this season, he said he did learn more about his ongoing role in the NBA from them.
“Every team needs the guys who are willing to sacrifice their own numbers and bodies to go out there and help the superstars get loose and make their lives easier and that is where I think I am really handy and I have figured that out with KD and Book,” he said.