Thanks to housecleaning efforts associated with the Houston Rockets’ inspired quest to acquire Dwight Howard, the Phoenix Suns have found themselves another power forward.
According to reports, the Suns won a waiver auction Sunday that will deliver 32-year-old Luis Scola to Planet Orange. Scola, who was on the Rockets’ payroll for another $21 million over the next three seasons, was designated for amnesty duty, making him available to auction bidders. The Rockets must pay the balance of Scola’s contract, but his number will be removed from their salary cap.
With $10 million on the final year of Scola’s deal not guaranteed, the Suns had to enter a bid of at least $3.3 million per season and ante up $10 million over three years.
The Suns, whose attempt to land restricted free agent Eric Gordon was turned back when the New Orleans Hornets matched their offer sheet Saturday afternoon, reportedly have slapped their own amnesty tag on forward Josh Childress. Childress also was owed around $21 million over the next three seasons. Cutting Childress would provide enough cap relief for the Suns to keep backup center Robin Lopez and look for another shooting guard after losing Gordon.
Unrestricted free-agent guard O.J. Mayo visited Phoenix on Friday.
Scola, a crafty operator on the block who’s capable of facing up from mid-range, averaged 15.5 points and 6.5 rebounds for Houston last season. One year earlier, he provided the Rockets with 18.3 and 8.2, respectively.
“I don’t know all of the details, but … he’s a real solid guy … he’s been a real solid guy,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said of Scola during an interview on NBATV following the Suns’ summer-league opener. “He’s a good, cerebral guy who knows how to play.”
Pending further roster maneuvers, Scola will join a Phoenix power-forward legion that includes Channing Frye, Markieff Morris, Hakim Warrick and Michael Beasley. Beasley, an unrestricted free agent, verbally agreed to a deal with the Suns that was held up while they awaited the Gordon situation and its accompany cap impact. He spent considerable time working at small forward for the Minnesota Timberwolves over the past two seasons and figures to play some three in Phoenix.
While Scola doesn’t figure to provide much of an upgrade defensively, he’ll provide scoring punch and versatility regardless of how Gentry massages the lineup.
During Sunday’s 99-74 triumph over the New York Knicks’ hapless summer-league squad, the Suns received an efficient dime-dropping effort from a young point-guard candidate.
But it wasn’t first-round pick Kendall Marshall. No, the assist machine in their Las Vegas opener was Diante Garrett, a second-year pro who worked for two teams in Europe last year after completing a stellar career at Iowa State.
Garrett, who finished Sunday’s game with 10 assists, was the Suns’ summer starter because Marshall — also waiting for the Gordon offer-sheet drama to be reconciled — was unable to sign his contract in time to take on the Knicks’ squad. He’s expected to participate in Phoenix’s remaining four summer league games.
Morris led the Suns with 21 points and 9 rebounds.
IN THE KNICK OF TIMELESS
Just in case the NBA creates a senior tour, the Knicks reportedly are interested in signing 39-year-old free-agent forward Grant Hill.
Hill, also mentioned as an option for the Miami Heat and Steve Nash’s Los Angeles Lakers, could join New York newcomers Jason Kidd (39), Kurt Thomas (he’ll be 40 in October) and Marcus Camby (38).
That would give the Knicks at least four players who might be able to remember when the team was good.