He may not be able to wear either of his preferred numbers in the desert with them already taken, but the Suns newest addition Luis Scola will surely have his number called upon this season.
Claiming Scola off of amnesty waivers was a strategic move by management to keep this team competitive in the short term. There is little doubt that Scola will add a new dimension to the Suns keeping them in playoff contention.
The amnesty itself was not a surprise, but being claimed by the Phoenix Suns was to Scola himself. "I can't say it caught me by surprise. The day after the draft Houston called me and told me that they were trying to go in a different direction. When i found out it was Phoenix i was a little surprised. There was a lot of talk of other teams putting in a bid (Cleveland and Dallas). I never heard anything from Phoenix so when they called me I was a little surprised."
Like Scola said he knew his days in Houston were numbered, but being claimed by a team that is not a contender as well as a team that was not in communication with him was the surprise. The veteran forward will bring his talents to the desert now.
Scola is no young buck, he is a 32 year old power forward that is seasoned in the NBA, European League, and in the Olympics. He is not the future of the franchise, but rather another asset for the coaching staff to have at their disposal.
The self analysis that Scola offers pretty much just that. His game is what it is at this point in his career with all the years of service he has provided to date. Potentially, this can be a replacement in the locker room in terms of leadership and guidance. On the court Scola is a career 17.3 point scorer and adds 9.2 rebounds to complete the package as a near double-double player. He has led the Argentine National Team going on eight years and into their third trip into the Olympics.
"I bring what I have always done on the basketball court," stated Scola. "What you have seen in my career is what it is right now."
More than anything the Suns are in need of veterans that can control the team on and off of the court. With his Olympic experience as well as the way he guided those tough, but talent light Houston Rockets teams this has to be reassuring for the Suns.
Some comfort came for Scola when he was found out the Suns were the team that picked him up. "I was really happy to find out I was going to play with Goran (Dragic) again," stated Scola on playing with Dragic again. "I feel really confident playing with him. I was sad when he left Houston because I was with them at the time, but I was really happy when I found out I was going to play with him again."
The chemistry with the Suns should be surprisingly good from the start next season. Scola has played with Dragic who has also played with current Suns Jared Dudley, Hakim Warrick, Channing Frye, Marcin Gortat, and Robin Lopez. Factor in that rookie Kendall Marshall is working on his chemistry with fellow young gun Markieff Morris out in Las Vegas during Summer League and you have a team that is well versed with each other on the court.
Chemistry is a major element in the Suns success over the past decade, maybe even as important as the former All-Star players that are no longer here. Building chemistry in the paint may be the biggest challenge with the plethora of talent down there.
Scola creates a bit of a logjam in the frontcourt with Gortat, Frye, Morris, Scola, and potentially Lopez if he is retained. "If we are having trouble with really good players finding minutes we are in really good shape," stated Head Coach Alvin Gentry. "That usually works itself out and plays itself out."
An undervalued element of this signing has to be the effect Scola will have with Morris. Last season Morris proved he can be a stretch four, but struggled on the block. Scola has the footwork and knowledge that may pay off in the long run for Morris if he is a willing pupil.
That crowded frontcourt gives the Suns one of those good kinds of problems. The versatility the team now has with Scola -- a classic back-to-the-basket player -- may set him up be an offensive facilitator on the block. Morris and Frye will be able to stretch the floor to the three point line giving Scola lots of room to operate.
Initially that logjam will not be there as Frye will miss the beginning of the season with injury. The addition of Scola helps that a lot. First things first Scola needs to figure out what number will be on his new purple and orange jersey. Gortat has No. 4, which has been the number Scola has used throughout his playing career in the NBA. His alternative number -- No. 11 -- is taken by Morris already.
It is time to open up the checkbook or start a new legacy with a new number for the newest member of the Phoenix Suns.