PHOENIX — The media contingent at Suns practice on Tuesday was a little deeper than usual.
The leading storyline that pushed ESPN to pick up the game midseason is of course the trade that sent Luis Scola to the Pacers for Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee and a lottery protected first-round pick in 2014. The deal has been important to the Pacers, who have Scola stabilizing the frontcourt by adding 8.3 points and 5.2 rebounds per game off the bench.
But it is the Suns (23-17) viewed as the winners of the trade thanks to the contributions Green and Plumlee have made. Suns coach Jeff Hornacek does not believe this is a .500 team without them.
“I wouldn’t think so,” Hornacek said. “Miles and Gerald have been huge for us, and they’ve helped us win many games with the style we play, Miles rolling to the basket and Gerald shooting threes. We would be well under .500 without them.”
Green has been able to get his career back on track with Hornacek’s leniency of his shot selection. He is averaging more than 13 points a game and is relied upon to score even more than he was while coming off the bench now that he is starting in place for Eric Bledsoe.
“Everyone is pumped up. We had a great practice and everyone is locked in,” Green said. “We understand the urgency we need to have to protect home court.”
There was a general sense that Green was unhappy with his stint in Indiana last year, but he said that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“I don’t know how you can be unhappy being one game away from the NBA Finals,” Green said. “I was not mad at all and would have been fine if I was giving people water.”
The other piece of the trade, Plumlee, only played in 14 games with the Pacers last season, but has been a difference-maker for the Suns at the center position by averaging more than nine points and eight rebounds a game. Hornacek is not surprised with the contributions made from either of the two players.
“We knew what these guys can do,” Hornacek said. “They are not new players, Ryan (McDonough) saw them in college and I saw them in pre-draft workouts.
“Gerald has been in the league and it hasn’t been a surprise what they do. It’s just how they fit for what we do.”
Eric Bledsoe update:
Bledsoe spoke after practice on Tuesday and said he is in the beginning stages of his rehab. He has not began to run or jump and did not give a timetable for his return. He reiterated multiple times that he is taking it slow and wants to get back to 100 percent.