Rumblings began to crop up late last night about the Indiana Pacers making a trade for Phoenix Suns' PF Luis Scola, and it took the better part of the next day to get the deal finalized and the terms of the deal complete. The Pacers acquired Scola, the 33-year-old Argentine star who has had successful stints with Houston and Phoenix for Gerald Green, their 2012 first round pick Miles Plumlee, and a lottery protected first round pick in 2014, the protection sheltering the Pacers in the event everything that can go wrong does.
The move will not only give the Pacers additional cap flexibility for next summer with extensions for Paul George and Lance Stephenson looming, but will improve their chances this year with Scola. Larry Bird was quoted on Pacers.com, saying, "Luis will be a very important asset to our team and to our bench." Scola will rejoin a revamped bench with C.J. Watson and Chris Copeland, as well a hopeful return to form for Danny Granger and a bright draft pick in Solomon Hill.
Acquiring Scola is maybe the best move the Pacers have put together this offseason. Scola is excited to be a valuable piece on a championship contender and SB Nation's Tom Ziller believes this could be the move that puts the Pacers over the top in the East. But there's a lingering cough from Indiana's bench revamp last year that might cause a brief pause. So why are this year's moves better? Last year, the Pacers' additions were going to be excellent pieces for Indiana's success if: If Green can replicate his performance in New Jersey. If Augustin can be a Darren Collison-like acquisition with improved passing. This year, the additions are going to be excellent pieces because. With the exception of Copeland, Indiana swung for proven guys on good teams like Watson and Scola (and found an all-too obvious emergency upgrade with Donald Sloan).
Was it a high price to pay for Scola? When taking into account the cap implications of not having to pay Green and a future first rounder, then no. Scola's non-guaranteed deal in 2014-15 helps the matter even more because now the Pacers are in a greater position to retain their core beyond Paul George while not giving up any chance of winning now. The move to shore up Indiana's 2014 bench should also give Indiana a more realistic shot at landing at the top of the Eastern Conference, something the team will be searching for in order to get their potential Game 7's in Indianapolis. Of course, the Pacers won't be without their competition in an increasingly top heavy Eastern Conference, but there's no reason to believe Indiana can't beat any of them anymore.