Pacers-Suns Trade: Grading Luis Scola for Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee Swap

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Pacers-Suns Trade: Grading Luis Scola for Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee Swap
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

It turns out the NBA offseason isn't all Dwight Howard.

In what was a transaction that saw a deep contender get deeper and a rebuilding hopeful get worse, the Indiana Pacers and Phoenix Suns agreed on a trade that will send Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee and a lottery-protected 2014 first-round pick to Arizona and Luis Scola in Indy, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski

The deal is drive by Indiana's quest for depth this summer. Looking to bolster its rotation outside its starting five, the Pacers acquired Scola, a serviceable power forward who should be able to provide valuable minutes off the bench behind the ever-tenacious David West.

For Phoenix, taking back Green and Plumlee won't help immediately, even if Green can duplicate his 2011-12 performance. 

What were the Suns trying to do here then? And are the Pacers getting adequate bang for their buck, or rather, draft pick?

Whenever two teams moving in different directions do business, the repercussions are potentially season defining. 

 

Indiana Pacers: A-

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Remember when the Pacers weren't deep? Or even close to it?

Indy ranked second-to-last in bench production per game last season, notching a mere 24.1 points a contest. Less than two months removed from the Eastern Conference Finals fallout against the Miami Heat, the Pacers are suddenly teeming with role players who can make an impact off the pine.

Scola is the most recent acquisition in what has been a sideline-deepening offseason in Indiana. Adding him has left the Pacers' depth chart looking a little something like this: 

 

  • Point Guard: George Hill, C.J. Watson, Donald Sloan
  • Shooting Guard: Lance Stephenson, Orlando Johnson
  • Small Forward: Paul George, Danny Granger, Chris Copeland, Solomon Hill
  • Power Forward: David West, Luis Scola
  • Center: Roy Hibbert, Ian Mahinmi

 

Their starting lineup is likely to consist of Hill, then either Stephenson or Granger, George, West and Hibbert. Everyone else will be pitching in off the bench.

Compared to what the Pacers ran with last year, that's simply insane. As is the potential impact Scola will have on Indiana's offense.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sport
Scola and Copeland make for some serious scoring in the frontcourt.

Helped in part by the absence of consistent bench production, the Pacers finished 23rd in points per game, tallying just 94.7. Their defense was their bread, butter, appetizer, entree and dessert. Anemic offensive sets were their Achilles' heel.

The Pacers addressed their stagnant offense with the additions of known-scorers Copeland and Watson. There is the impending return of Granger, who led the team in scoring during the 2011-12 campaign, to consider as well.

Now there's Scola.

For his career, Scola has averaged 14.2 points per game and 7.5 rebounds per game on 50.4 percent shooting. Last season in Phoenix, while averaging the fewest number of minutes of his career (26.6), he still managed to notch 17.3 points per game and 8.9 rebounds per game per 36 minutes.

Scola's career shot chart (via NBA.com).

Only 10 other players in the league who logged at least 25 minutes a night were able to play at a pace of at least 17 points and 8.5 rebounds on 47 percent or better shooting from the field, six of whom made an All-Star appearance.

To say he can fill up the box score in a hurry would be underselling what he can actually do. Think of him as a limited David West. 

According to Synergy Sports (subscription required), Scola ranked 226th with 0.88 points allowed per defensive possession last season. And per 82games.com, he allowed opposing power forwards and centers to post an 18.6 PER against him, markedly above the league average of 15.

What Scola can do.

But the Pacers didn't acquire him for his defense. They finished atop the league in defensive efficiency last year and are equipped to cover up the struggles of one or more players. Offense was what they needed most.

The only questionable asset given away was the protected first rounder in 2014. Indiana is at the point where it isn't rebuilding through draft and wasn't going to finish in a position that gave it a top selection.

Still, relinquishing a first-round selection in exchange for a 33-year-old is always subject to scrutiny. If Scola isn't able to fill the role they need from him or gets injured, that pick could be something the Pacers regret trading later.

Overall, there wasn't much (if anything) not to like about this trade. The Pacers are one of the biggest threats to the Heat's Eastern Conference crown, now even more so than last season.

 

Phoenix Suns: B-

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Tank. Mode.

Phoenix didn't get better on the heels of this trade. It got worse. Much, much worse.

The Suns essentially turned last year's second-leading scorer into a pair of fillers in Green and Plumlee.

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
All in for Wiggins?

Green's an athletic freak, but he didn't meet expectations in Indiana, averaging just seven points on 36.6 percent shooting one year after putting up 12.9 while shooting 48.1 percent with the Nets.

Perhaps he'll be better suited on a team with little-to-no expectations that is in a similar situation to the one he had with the Nets. Only time, and some experimenting, will tell.

There was more to this trade, though. That protected first rounder must look good approaching what is being heralded as one of the deepest draft classes in recent memory. I'd be shocked if it landed in the top 20, but a first-round pick holds value no matter where it falls.

Then there's the big, big picture to consider, also spelled A-N-D-R-E-W W-I-G-G-I-N-S.

Name five teams in the league on course to finish with a worse record than the Suns next season. I dare you. 

You'll struggle to come up with five, because there aren't that many.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Shoot at will, Michael.

By ridding themselves of Scola in favor of Green and Plumlee, the Suns are in a great position to tank the season away, toward a potential Andrew Wiggins selection. Even a top-five pick would be something to get excited about. Next year's projected lottery picks seem to be brimming with star potential.

Really, the Suns are about one Marcin Gortat or Goran Dragic trade away from emerging as the close-to-absolute favorites of tankapalooza.

Attempt to search for a deeper meaning if you feel the need, but sometimes it is this simple. Channing Frye's return does eliminate some of the need the Suns had for Scola, yet we'd be kidding ourselves if we believed this was about clearing up a positional logjam.

Which team won the Luis Scola for Gerald Green and Miles Plumlee swap?

Submit Vote vote to see results

Phoenix has no plans to contend for anything other than the top pick in next year's draft and has no delusions to the contrary.

All that's left for the Suns to do is give Michael Beasley the unconditional green light for all of next season. Then they'll be sitting pretty. 

Well, technically sitting ugly.

Inhabiting the bottom of the NBA's hierarchy never looks good. But for Phoenix's purposes, an unsightly finish is an attractive one.

Keep on shooting, Mr. Beasley. Keep on shooting.

 

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