If the writing were not already on the wall for Luis Scola
this offseason, the Houston Rockets confirmed it with a post-NBA Draft phone
call: His days as a Rocket were numbered.
While Scola was surprised to leave Houston via the amnesty clause instead of a
trade, he soon received another surprise — a pleasant one — in learning he’d
been picked up by the Phoenix Suns.
“When I found out it was Phoenix I was a little surprised because there
was a lot of talking between some other teams that supposedly were going to
bid,” Scola said during a conference call Tuesday. “I started
thinking, and I think it’s a great situation. … The more I think about it, the
more I want to go there and play.”
Scola, a 6-foot-9 forward who is currently prepping for the Olympics with the
Argentinean national team, had heard most from the Dallas Mavericks and
Cleveland Cavaliers, with both telling him they would bid for his services. The
Suns never seemed like a possibility, probably in part because they already had
a crowded frontcourt.
With a group of big men which includes Markieff Morris, Channing Frye, Hakim
Warrick and Marcin Gortat, with Michael Beasley soon to join the fold, Scola is
not yet sure where he fits. Suns coach Alvin Gentry isn’t certain, either, but
with that kind of depth, he hardly seems concerned.
“If we’re having trouble with really good players finding minutes, then
we’re in great shape,” Gentry said. “I think it’s going to be a great
situation. It makes a competitive situation.”
The return of restricted free agent Robin Lopez, a distinct possibility, would
make for even more of a crowd. But Gentry noted that Frye could miss part of
the early season while recovering from a partially dislocated shoulder suffered
on April 21.
Based on past production, Scola, 32, figures to be among the Suns’ top three
big men. Much will obviously be determined once training camp rolls around, but
Scola, alongside Gortat, could help the Suns establish a scoring presence in
the post not seen since Amare Stoudemire departed in free agency two seasons
ago. Scola averaged 15.5 points last season, following a career-high 18.3 the
Scola admits to some uncertainty about how his playing style meshes with the
Suns’ famously up-tempo offense.
“I try to adapt to any style that the team wants to play,” Scola
said. “I’m really not sure of the things I need to work on to fit better
with the team right now.”
The adjustment process figures to be shared by the entire roster, which has
undergone a radical transformation with the loss of — among others — Steve
Nash and Grant Hill and the addition of Scola, Beasley, Goran Dragic and
Kendall Marshall. Scola and Dragic played together last year in Houston.
“I’ve been a Sun for barely two days and it’s really hard for me to analyze
changes the organization has made this summer,” Scola said. “I’m just
happy to be there. I think we have a good situation right now. I think we have
a good team. I think we have some work to do, but we have some talent.”
Scola has never been known for his defensive prowess, but there seems to be no
delusions on the Suns’ part in that regard.
What they are getting is another capable offensive threat, and Gentry also sees
in Scola an intangible which recently has been drained from the Suns roster with
the departures of Nash and Hill — veteran leadership.
“He’s been a really good player on that Argentinean Olympic team,”
Gentry said. “If you look at the guys they’ve surrounded him with there,
the fact that he has kind of stood out on that team tells me a lot.
Scola said he plans to do what he’s always done once he joins his new Suns
“I try to lead by example and work as hard as I can,” Scola said.
“Those things I think always help to be a leader. That’s what I did in
Houston, and that’s what I’ll try to do in Phoenix.”