Luis Scola ‘surprised’ to land in Phoenix, but considers it ‘a great situation’ for him


Luis Scola will bring veteran leadership, toughness and interior scoring to the Suns. (Illustration by @JFace5)

Luis Scola will bring veteran leadership, toughness and interior scoring to the Suns. (Illustration by @JFace5)

PHOENIX — Luis Scola was not surprised that he became perhaps the best player yet to fall victim to the amnesty process.

The Rockets after all informed him shortly after the draft that he did not fit their future direction.

However, Scola did not expect the Suns to place the winning bid for his services after teams like Dallas and Cleveland promised him a strong amnesty bid whereby he heard nary a whisper out of Phoenix.

“I kind of didn’t expect anything from Phoenix, so when they called me I was a little surprised,” Scola said.

Shortly after hearing the news Scola was immediately immersed in a three-hour practice with the Argentinean national team, but the more he thought about it the more he realized Phoenix was “a great situation” for him.

“We’ve got a good team, I’ve got the chance to play with Goran again, and I always liked Gortat’s game,” Scola said on a conference call from Spain, where he’s prepping for the Olympics. “He can be a big help for me. I think it’s a good situation, I felt from the calls that we had from the people in the Phoenix Suns organization that they’re happy with me and they want me there, and that’s a good thing. I’m happy, I’m excited the more I think about it the more I want to go there to play.”

Head coach Alvin Gentry sees Scola as “an incredibly smart player. He’s a tough-minded player, great guy in the locker room, a great guy at practice. … I just think he’s someone that can really help us on the court but also help us in the locker room.”

That last point cannot be underrated for a Suns team that has lost locker room leaders Steve Nash and Grant Hill this offseason and figures to enter the season with no other rotation player in his 30s.

Scola described himself as a leader by example, and he’s the kind of true professional expected to play an important role that could be a stabilizing force in the locker room.

With the Suns intent on not becoming a “rudderless” young team like so many others in this league, it surely makes sense to mix in a vet like Scola all the while the rest of the roster undergoes a youthful transformation.

Scola was ecstatic that one of those young acquisitions was former Rocket Goran Dragic, a player Scola watched develop during his year and a half in Houston.

“I was really happy that find out I was going to play with Goran again,” Scola said. “Goran is a great player. When he started playing great I was really happy for him. He helped us win a lot of games, and I feel really confident playing with him. I was sad when he left Houston because I was there at the time, and I was really happy when I found out I was going to play with him again. Yeah, Goran was definitely one of the positive things.”

That point guard-power forward chemistry could be huge for Scola knowing how tough it can be to adjust to a new team. Scola’s presence should make Dragic that much more comfortable as well since he played with the big man during his best run in the league after also playing with many current Suns back when he was Nash’s caddy.

Scola does not expect a difficult adjustment period, though, because he is pretty comfortable with who he is on the basketball court at this point in his career.

He’s going to use his crafty interior game and toughness to be a menace in the paint, and he will pull out any trick in the book to gain an advantage on his opponent. As John Hollinger pointed out, Scola enjoyed a career season at age 30 when he averaged a 18.3-8.2, and since he has always relied on skill more than athleticism there is reason to believe he will remain effective through the length of his contract as he ages.

“I bring what I have always done on the basketball court,” Scola said. “I am not a young guy, I’m 32 years old so my game is pretty much what it is right now. Hopefully I can continue to be productive along the years. What you saw in my career is pretty much what I am right now. The same things that I brought to Houston is what I’m bringing to Phoenix.”

Now playing for a team that has lacked post scoring in recent years, the Suns would be thrilled to receive that same kind of production from their new veteran.

Tags: Luis Scola

  • Tim in BC

    I am excited and happy that Luis Scola is now a Sun!I think he brings alot of skill, energy and experience to the team and I have always been impressed with his play when I have watched Rockets games. He should do well with Goran Dragic as well since they play well together and seem to have a good relationship. The management are making some good moves this year with Dragic, Scola and Beasley. Now if they can get another guard like Barbossa or Lee, things will really be looking up!

  • http://jtshoopsblog.blogspot.com JT’s Hoops Blog

    The Suns have certainly im[proved thier roster. They might even be a dark horse to make the playoffs.

  • KJ

    What an insult to #44. That’s Paul Westphal’s retired number. Any true Suns fan would know that. I’m not a fan of Luis Scola at all…his game is to hack away and flop on defense. Is this the death of Pick N Roll in PHX?

  • http://www.valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

    @KJ As you pointed out, 44 won’t be Scola’s number in Phoenix. That was just an illustration of Scola in a Suns jersey I found on Twitter that I thought would be a nice complement to the piece.

  • Greg

    “hack away” his foul numbers are right in line with most other starting power forwards in the league, so I wouldnt go that far. The only thing that hurts the pick n roll game in PHX is the fact that Nash is gone, probably the best pick and roll point guard ever, he is literally on another level. Scola being added to the mix will not hurt the pNr game, it could help because he is effective on the pick and pop which will leave Gortat as an effective roll option if Goran can get him the ball. Nash leaving hurts, Scola coming doesnt. Scola actually offers the offense a little more versatility considering his Post preference, but the pick n roll game may fade a little naturally.

  • Morgan McCoy

    I think calling yourself KJ is a insult to Kevin Johnson. “death of pick n roll in PHX?” Any suns fan and person who pays attention to Basketball that the suns have one of the best pick n roll players in the league with Gortat. Dragic will develop great chemistry with Gortat and the pick n roll game will not suffer. What Scola provides is a really good compliment to pnr game between Gortat and Dragic. He thrives on the block and is really good at posting up. Gortat is terrible at posting up. He still has not developed a go to move on the block and has terrible foot work. Scola on the other hand has amazing foot work and uses a variety of head and ball fakes to get easy baskets. Scola is a very fundamentally sound player. Scola’s defense is not terrible. He stays in front of his man and tries to keep his position in the paint. He does flop and tries to draw charges, which is good defense. Scola is going to be a good fit, and really upgrades PF position.

  • Khalid

    I think Scola is an exciting player to have. Great to watch. The team has not been rebounding well which I hope becomes a thing of the past with Scola, Beasley and ‘Keef. Scola will most likely choose no. 10 to wear !

  • Max

    Yeah how has that pick n roll worked out for us KJ? Notice championship teams don’t run nearly as much pick n roll as the middle of the pack teams. We need some easy buckets and Scola and Gortat will get them.

  • Mike

    What do you think the odds are of Grant Hill doing a sign and trade for a second round pick? The biannual something exception (?) seems a little small at 1.4 million (relatively obviously haha)

  • cha cha cha

    0%. The Clippers appear to “owe” 5 second-round picks in the next 4 drafts:

    http://basketball.realgm.com/nba/draft/future_drafts/detailed

  • Mike

    haha wow what an inconvenient team to go to… well i’d rather get nothing in return than dead-weight ryan gomes. good call FO

  • Gosuns

    Hey Michael, what is the possibility of us signing and trading cortney lee for rip and possibly a 2nd rounder or something since they are trying to unload the veteran sg and we want a relatively cheap contract

  • cha cha cha

    “No free agent signed in the offseason can be traded until December 15″

  • bk

    I think the Suns only need Scola for 2 years. In 3rd year, Markieff Morris is supposed to start if things go smoothly.

  • http://www.valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

    @Gosuns Yeah, you can only do sign-and-trade deals with your our free agents. I wouldn’t mind seeing one with Robin Lopez.

  • Gosuns

    Ok

  • Joe

    Hi Michael! Any Lopez for Brandon Rush deals being talked about by the Suns?

  • Scott

    A nice thing about Scola is he can create his own shot. He doesn’t need to be part of a pick and roll in order to have offense. He should provide a good example to Morris of a type of game that Morris could expand upon.

    And he is very tough minded veteran, which is a great quality to have on a young and suddenly leaderless team.

    Also, with both Scola and Beasley, the Suns could have the option of dealing Lopez. They could play Morris as the 2nd team’s C until Frye heals up.

    Starters: Dragic, SG (scorer), Dudley, Scola, Gortat
    2nd unit: Marshall, SG (defender), Warrick, Beasley, Morris

  • sun also rises

    True story scott, but a lot of us also thought the same thing about hedo turkeyglue and that turned out to be the night of the living dead.

    I’m cautiously hyped about Scola not turning out the same way but most of that’s due to him already playing with Dragic. For that reason it’s a good pickup imho.

  • http://none.com Russell

    Getting Scola reminds me of when we got Tom Gugliotta. We got One and a half seasons worth of solid basketball from Googs.

    BTW he had that nickname before Google came around.

  • Stephen

    @Michael

    What do you think our chances of getting Jimmer from the Kings is? Think he would be a worthwhile addition?

  • Greg

    please no jimmer. an undersized 2 trying to be a 1 that cant guard either position. he has scoring ability, but its not for this team. he is not the type of depth we want to add. we cant add a guard that cant defend the 2, we need a guy right now that can defend the 2 and 3.

    not sure how some people think its realistic beasley will be coming off the bench. we did not sign him to a 3 year deal worth 18 mil to put him in a situation similar to last season. if he isnt starting, and not playing well, this team has zero chance of sniffing the 8 seed. dudley cab still play big minutes, he can get 15 – or so at the 3 and 15+ at the 2. dudley has came off the bench 4 of his 5 seasons, and hes done well, so he has the experience and the character necessary to be a quality 6th man. Beasley doesnt have either of those. well, i wouldnt say character, he has had minor incidences that people have blown up because he was such a big deal early on, but im not assuming he is a bad character guy. Ive actually heard that he is a good locker room guy

  • PennyAnd1

    @Greg

    I disagree. Sure Jimmer has no defense. The same thing we said about Frye when he first came in, but Turner did a great job on Frye I don’t see how Jimmer cannot improve in that aspect of his career as well. But what’s most important is Jimmer’s offense. He still has that potential to be a deadly shooter.

    Now that we have Scola & Gortat down low, defense shouldn’t be that much of a problem. If anything let Jimmer come off the bench. But I believe Jimmer can turn alot of heads if he goes to a friendly-environment that the Suns can offer. Not a hostile one in Kings where Cousins just puts too much pressure. I could see Jimmer as the next Rex Chapman. Besides, you wouldn’t have to spend much cash and they can always sign him for atleast 2 years.

  • http://none.com Russell

    jimmer sucks. He has no business being on an NBA team. He needs to be in the D League.

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    I also disagree on saying “no” to Jimmer.

    Jimmer is who he is. He is a gunner with NICS-Special-Agent-Gibbs sniper range. It is absolutely not his fault that Sacramento tried to turn into something he is not.

    He would not start on the Phoenix roster. He would be used the way he’s supposed to be used.

    He’d come off the bench, keep the floor spaced, and rain down 3s from the corners and the top of the key. Phoenix has point guards who ARE point guards. He’d be back to doing what is natural to him.

  • Scott

    I agree with Penny about Jimmer. He doesn’t seem to fit in Sacramento.

    That said, I wouldn’t want to pay much for him.

    IMO, the Suns can use 1 scoring and 1 defensive SG.

    As for Beasley, even Kerr said he expected Beasley to play at PF where he is more effective, but with Scola in the lineup, Kerr noted that puts him at SF.

    If you accept Beasley at SF, then the starters are probably: Dragic, Dudley, Beasley, Scola, Gortat. That’s a team that has balanced scoring and defense.

    The 2nd unit becomes more of a puzzle though, as in terms of remaining players you’ve got: Telfair, Marshall, Warrick, Morris, Frye.

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    NCIS, even. Fingers are lightning quick!

  • http://none.com Russell

    I much rather make a trade for Tyreke Evans.

  • Scott

    @Rich -

    I could see Jimmer as a 6th man, bringing “instant offense.”

  • http://none.com Russell

    We already have “instant offense” guys off the bench. All Jimmer does is shoot 3′s, we have Frye coming off the bench to do that, plus at least Frye will get a few rebounds and has size. Also we have Dudley off the bench that is good for 11-12 pts. (assuming we sign Lee).

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    Jimmer in Phoenix came up a few days ago on Daily Dime Live.

    - By the way, if you guys have time when DDL is running, you should start showing up there. It’s a good time and very informative.

    What the Suns do and how they use the 2 position would greatly benefit Jimmer. Gentry’s second units function more on disruption, not man-to-man defense.

    I’d take him as a wing player if we could get him for fair value. That salary he is on currently would help keep cap room free as he wouldn’t be taking a great chunk out of it.

    He does seem disconnected in Sacramento. I see a bit of Barbosa in that situation where the Suns were just hell-bent on converting road runner into a backup point even though his international play and style clearly illustrated that he is an attacker, not a creator.

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    @ Russel –

    “We already have “instant offense” guys off the bench. All Jimmer does is shoot 3?s, we have Frye coming off the bench to do that, plus at least Frye will get a few rebounds and has size. Also we have Dudley off the bench that is good for 11-12 pts. (assuming we sign Lee)”

    First, the “All Jimmer does is shoot 3′s” line.

    Right. And in Phoenix, that is what we would WANT him to do. Rain down the 3′s, keep his guy on him, (and space for the guards to work the PnR action), and punish the defense when they leave him.

    SAC tried to make him do things that clearly don’t work to his strengths.

    Also, (and I love Dudley), he is not instant offense and if he does come off the bench, he’s playing the 3 position.

    And in regards to Channing Frye, did you watch him play last season? I’m still dodging the bricks that are still flying off the angry rims that he tossed up.

    Gentry’s system is one of space. the 1, 4, and 5 work the PnR, and the 2 and the 3 stay posted in the corners or high elbow. Jimmer fits in with the bench mob flawlessly.

  • PennyAnd1

    @Russell

    Frye is not reliable when it comes to shooting 3s. I’d rather have Jimmer do that part.

    Here would my line up be:

    Gortat/Frye or Lopez
    Scola/Morris
    Beasley/Dudley
    Lee/Jimmer
    Dragic/Marshall

    I know we can’t have both Lee & Jimmer. But if it is Jimmer that we get if we can’t get Lee, then I’d put Dudley as a starter in SG. I wish they get rid of Warrick, he’s just too soft.

    But having Jimmer team up with Marshall & Frye can be a big boost to the bench, as both guys can light up the basket together. Marshall will get better I promise ya’ll.

  • Greg

    @ Pennyand1

    Yea Frye, couldnt play great defense, and he is much improved, but he had the length and size to work with. a stretch 4 power forward that has weak defense is much different from an undersized SG or PG is a little different. He is too short to guard twos, and not really quick enough to guard pgs. He wont improve much defensively because he isnt going to get faster and you cant add length. LOL and if you think Scola and Gortat are gonna sure things up defensively? Gortat is a nice defensive player and Scola is a tough post guy, but neither is good enough to cover the deficiencies of Beasley in the starting lineup or jimmer off the bench, and if he comes off the bench they wont be on the floor together all that much anyway. I dont think Dwight Howard could solve that.

    Why do you think the Kings insisted to play him at PG, even with Tyreke Evans and Isiah Thomas on the team? Because he isnt capable of being on the floor as a 2. yea sure “raining” threes in the NBA is 2 or 3 a game at best, lets say he averages 12 off the bench? His defense would literally negate any type of effect he has offensively. He isnt an NBA shooting gaurd, and he has no PG skills really.

    Its not that he cant score, I said he can score and has that ability, it just doesnt fit with this team. Where would he play, start with Goran and Jimmer at the 2? Marshall anf Jimmer off the bench as the guards? they would get destroyed defensively. Its not that he isnt a nice potential or a nice scorer, he just is not a good fit. We have 3 PGs and no true SG on the roster. He would further hinder that depth.We need a bench 2/3 that can put it on the floor, something he also doesnt do. and there would be no “signing” him to two years, we would trade for him and then inherit his rookie contract, and we would def have to give up multiple picks, considering he was what the 12th pick last year? He wont be had for a 2nd rounder or late 1st, he still has lights out scoring potential in your opinion.

    And FRYE isnt reliable!? a 39% career 3 pt shooter, which is superb for any player let alone a stretch 4/back up center. Frye stretches the floor, because 4 and 5s cant guard him on the perimeter. Jimmer on the other hand, is very guard-able. He is gonna be on perimeter where his position says he is supposed to be, that doesnt stretch the floor as much as Frye does. Jimmer, obviously will improve im sure, shot 36% from 3, Frye had an off year shooting, but he will bounce back.

    Dudley did fine at the 2 last year, but he really is too slow for 2′s, his anticipation and awareness is what makes him defensively. Playing 30 mins game off the bench at both the 2 and 3 would benefit the Suns the most. We need to find a starting two that can fit with our current 4 that are locked into starting.

  • Ty-Sun

    Yeah, Jimmer just isn’t a good fit for this team.

    Of course if the Kings were willing to trade him straight up for Warrick then welcome aboard Jimmer! LOL ;)

  • Greg

    lets not put too much stock into him being a top 10 pick either, in this years draft he wouldnt have gotten invited to the greeen room

  • Greg

    good point Ty-Sun, if they can trade our garbage for Jimmer, then yes, sign him up. But any picks or any player that has any future with this team, its not an option

  • PennyAnd1

    @Greg

    I had no idea Jimmer was only 6′ 2″…and he is pretty slow. Makes me scratch my head now. Go Courtney Lee!

  • http://ballcruncher.com Mr. Cruncher

    From @SpearsNBAYahoo –

    “Celtics to acquire G Courtney Lee from Rockets in a sign and trade sending back F JaJuan Johnson, sources tell Y! Details being finalized.”

    It’s safe to say the Suns are likely to return Brown or Redd at this point; hopefully on a 1 year deal.

  • PennyAnd1

    I just don’t like Brown. He’s not good for the young guys. He just doesn’t know how to play the game right. We’re all doomed now

  • Ty-Sun

    Well, if C. Lee is out of the equation then I think the Suns should look for the best defensive SG option left in the FA market. Having a strong defender at the 2 is better than having a weak scorer AND a weak defender. Belinelli is probably the last option left if you want to bring in anyone who is at least a 3 point threat at SG. Delonte West? Another head case. Perhaps he and Beasley might actually mesh and form one good brain… but I doubt it. Bring back Barbosa? Possible. He might actually play well with Marshall on the bench unit. Randy Foye? His stats aren’t that bad but but not really any better than anyone else I’ve mentioned. I think it will come down to which of them will play for a one year contract. All of them are really 2nd unit players but the Suns don’t have any better choices that I can think of. And yes we could just try to bring back Redd and Brown but I don’t think that is the best answer. Brown has more upside than Redd so – IF YOU MUST – bring him back and pair him with either Belinelli, West, Barbosa or Foye at the 2. Whichever player works out best with the starting unit starts and the other comes off the bench. Please just don’t offer any of them more than a small money 2 year contract.

  • nashty

    Rush and T-Will? Rush and Redd? T-Will start SG and Redd? The other players I don’t like for our team.

  • cha cha cha

    i like Lee, but ” E’Twaun Moore, JaJuan Johnson, Sean Williams and 2nd rd pick” is fairly nuts.

  • Greg

    Alonzo Gee

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    I think it’s funny how a lot of our fellow readers are slamming any guy who may or may not be able to cover a guard position when one of the greatest players in Suns history couldn’t cover ANYBODY.

    Again, as a starter, no. Jimmer can’t cover many starting guards.

    As a member of the bench mob, he really only has to worry about Ginobli and Harden and really, that assignment will go to somebody else while Jimmer is hidden.

    That goes for anybody who can’t D up in regards to how Phoenix plays defense. Not just Jimmer, by the way.

    Offensively, his height isn’t an issue either. He wouldn’t be asked to blow by anybody and he most certainly isn’t going to be asked to post people up. Our BIG MEN don’t even get asked to post people up!

    And no, Channing Frye was not good last season. By the middle of the year teams were LETTING him shoot it from deep while getting into rebounding position. He was not reliable.

    He averaged 10.5 PPG, 5.9 RPG on 34% 3P and 41% FG

    That is not good enough. Morris is going to devour all of his minutes and he won’t get them back unless RoLo is still on the team.

  • Greg

    So Frye had a poor year shooting, but his defense continued to improve and his rebounding rate, steal rate, block rate, all went up while his foul rate went down. Shooters have off years, and I agree, at times Channing looked awful last year, but his PER was one of the highest of his career despite the poor shooting. Shooters can be streaky, unfortunately for Frye he wasnt able to be consistent all year.

    He did have a two-month stretch in jan/feb where he averaged 13 ppg and 6.5 boards, he only shot 43% but was 38.5% from 3PT range, and his 86% FT shooting was good too.

    It is a little bit of a reach to assume Frye is gonna lose all of his minutes and to say he isnt good enough because he had 2 pretty good months and 2 below average/bad months. He has improved his play on the defensive end which makes him a contributor and he does stretch the floor still. Teams let him shoot cuz they knew he was struggling from three towards the end, but in those middle months he was just as capable as other quality 3pt shooters. Frye will be a more effective option off the bench in my opinion anyway.

    Who is going to hide Jimmer defensively? There is not a defender on the entire team that can hide his shortcomings. To say nash couldnt cover anyone is an exagerration. Nash’s defensive metrics have always been average, he doesnt necessarily kill a team on that end. he is always in right spot and takes tons of charges, even if he isnt good on 1 on 1 defense, he isnt a bad team defender. I am sure Jimmer is adequate as a team defender too, but his scoring is not at an elite level to be willing to take him in. Nash scored with high efficiency and he is the best passer in the league, so who cares if he cant guard anyone? I know its summer league, but Jimmer is shooting 35%, even tho hes averaging around 19 a game. thats not very good sign, and it is consistent with his rookie percentages. No room on the floor for a guy who cant defend and we are banking on maybe making 1 or 2 threes a game.

  • B. Cray Z.

    MUST start & finish with LB!!!!