HANG TIME WEST – This is how the Pacers do it: smart move after smart move, rarely splashy but almost always right, as history shows. Those two hand prints on the Heat’s chest, left from the hard shove Indiana delivered as May melted into June, show it too.
Acquiring Luis Scola from the Suns on Saturday for Miles Plumlee, Gerald Green and a lottery-protected 2014 pick is the latest. It won’t track well now on the Richter scale, a backup power forward coming for two players who made small contributions and a draft choice that will land in the 20s barring unexpected developments. It might not jump out as one of the altering moments from the offseason.
It could merely change the Eastern Conference.
The Pacers needed big-man depth behind David West and Roy Hibbert, after relying mostly on Ian Mahinmi and Tyler Hansbrough last season, and addressed it without removing much from the rotation. Now they have an offensive threat in the role, plus someone known as a positive locker-room influence, with the hope that Danny Granger will be a pseudo-addition. Forty-nine wins in the regular season, a Game 7 in the conference final, and Indy gets a double-upgrade.
Scola is no star, and his contributions will not be scrutinized in the way Granger will be watched coming back from knee surgery after Paul George took his job at small forward and his role as headliner on offense. In that role, though, and at that price to the roster, it’s hard to imagine the Pacers doing much better.
It’s a good deal for the Suns, as well: part of a continuing overhaul, giving them Plumlee, the No. 26 pick in 2012, as a potential piece for the future along with the potential of three first-round selections in what projects as a rich 2014 draft for Phoenix. But in the moment, the second-best team in the East just got better and addressed a particular need.
The Pacers saw the future with Frank Vogel, a relative unknown among coaching hopefuls, and were proven right by promoting him from assistant to the top spot. They didn’t pick higher than 10th and drafted George and Granger. They got Hibbert as the No. 17 choice. The biggest headlines were signing West in 2011, and that was at a very cap-friendly two years, and getting hometown product George Hill for the selection the Spurs used for Kawhi Leonard. Scola for Plumlee, Green and a first is right in line — smart move after smart move.