Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Sports

July 31, 2013

NBA: Indiana continues effort to build bench

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Pacers believe they have put a key piece in place to challenge for an NBA title when they recently traded for veteran forward Luis Scola.

The Pacers had previously added guards C.J. Watson and Donald Sloan and forwards Chris Copeland and draft pick Solomon Hill. Pacers coach Frank Vogel said topping it off with the acquisition of Scola put a smile on his face.

“The final piece to Larry Bird’s overhaul of our bench, which was inconsistent, really, the past couple of years,” Vogel said. “He and I both believe very strongly in playing with depth and having a strong bench. Changes we made this summer are clearly going to bring an element to this team that we haven’t had in the past.”

The Pacers took the Miami Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference finals last season, and now, armed with new weapons, Vogel isn’t shying away about talk of a championship.

“We’ve got a shot the next couple years to go for it all, and we’re going for it all,” Vogel said.

Scola said an NBA title is the only thing missing from his career. The Argentine has won an Olympic gold medal and a world championship.

“I’m 33 years old,” he said. “I don’t know how many more years I’m going to play. The older you are, the more you know that it is all about winning. Nobody really cares whatever you do in a bad team or what numbers you had if you’ve never played in the playoffs or anything.”

Scola will be important because he fills the void left when Tyler Hansbrough, last year’s backup power forward, wasn’t brought back. He will provide a sorely needed offensive punch to a unit that bogged the team down in the playoffs.

“He improves our basketball IQ,” Vogel said. “He’s one of the smartest players that this league’s ever seen. He’s one of the savviest players at the power forward position that this league’s ever seen. All his international experience -- he’s just a guy that really makes his teammates better, makes the offense flow. It’s just a great addition and a great upgrade to our club.”

The 6-9, 245-pound Scola played five seasons with the Houston Rockets and last season with the Suns. He has career averages of 14.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. He started 67 of 82 games for Phoenix last season and 410 of 468 regular season games in his career. He has no problem coming off the bench for Indiana.

“I feel like I’m a starter, but this situation puts me in a place that I’m not a starter anymore, and it wasn’t my choice, but I’m going to embrace my role,” he said. “I’m not here to break anything. I know this team has a great chemistry. I’m not going to be the guy who breaks it up. I’m very happy to doing an important role on a good team.”

 

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