Player Review 2014: Luis Scola
Years pro: 7
Status: Has one year remaining on a contract that will also be paid by Houston, which amnestied him two years ago.
Key stats: Averaged career-low 7.6 points on 47 percent shooting while playing career-low 17.1 minutes per game.
Luis Scola isn't the type to complain. It's not his nature, for one thing. For another, he realizes that in the bigger picture he has it made. This, after all, is a 34-year-old professional basketball veteran who presides over a tight family that includes four young kids, enjoys supreme health thanks to a strict diet and has seen the world, thanks to his sport.
But if he were inclined, he could air some frustrations over his first season with the Pacers.
Scola played the fewest minutes (17.1), started the fewest games (2) and scored the fewest points (7.6) of his seven-year NBA career – all by a comfortable margin, so to speak, although it wasn't comfortable for him. He said all the right things about playing off the bench when acquired last summer and didn't complain about it during the winter, but the fact remains he's accustomed to being a starter, regards himself as a starter and would prefer to start.
That's not to say he won't accept another season of playing off the bench behind David West, but among the adjustments coach Frank Vogel can consider for next season will be to rest West and play Scola more often. Or, perhaps, play them together in a "small" lineup. They were together in just 26 games last season, for an average of 3.2 minutes, so the sample size wasn't large enough to draw much of a conclusion from the +1.2 plus-minus rating.
Scola came to be viewed by some as an obstacle to more playing time for fan favorite Chris Copeland, who lost his projected role as a backup power forward when Scola was acquired. Scola and Copeland wound up having essentially the same field goal and free throw percentages. Copeland brought the additional benefit of three-point shooting, but Scola was a better passer and rebounder. Perspective, for many, was based on expectations more than results.
Photo Gallery: Luis Scola Player Review »
Still, Scola could be vulnerable to an off-season transaction because of the reasonable salary obligation the Pacers have to him, and Copeland's presence.
Scola came to the Pacers amid as much fanfare as a backup power forward can generate last summer. Team president Larry Bird, who had been pursuing him for years, gave up Gerald Green, 2012 first-round draft pick Miles Plumlee and his first-round pick in this year's draft for Scola, regarding him as a veteran and vital addition to a championship contender.
It didn't work out as well as everyone hoped. Scola's primary role was to come in off the bench and knock down mid-range jump shots. He did that better than most fans probably remember, hitting 47 percent of his two-point shots, but wasn't called upon to utilize his post-up skills very often.
Scola looked more like the Scola of old when he got the opportunities of old. He got a start at Milwaukee late in the season when Vogel rested the starters, and finished with 24 points (11-of-17 shooting), nine rebounds, three assists and one turnover in 31 minutes. He started again in the final regular season game at Orlando and had 10 points (4-of-10), eight rebounds, four assists and two turnovers.
He played more than 25 minutes in just two other games, and averaged 14.5 points on 66 percent shooting and seven rebounds in those.
He wasn't much of a factor in the playoffs, although he did score 20 points in Game 2 against Altanta and reached double figures in four other games. He played just 12 seconds in the final two games against the Hawks and had some clunkers in the second and third rounds. His entire individual fate, at times, seemed to rest on whether his perimeter shots were falling. It might surprise some fans to know that he hit 16-of-33 shots in the conference finals against Miami. His two best games, though, came in losses. All in all he averaged just 13.5 minutes in the postseason, shooting 46 percent.
Scola offered a mature voice in the locker room, although as a newcomer to an already-proven team he didn't have much of a platform. More often than not, he spent his time in the locker room after home games entertaining his oldest son. He handled his role gracefully, particularly the playoff games in which he didn't play, or barely played. Still, he's no doubt hoping not to have to show as much class next season.