If there needs to be any doubt about it, the Pacers once again showed they are serious about competing in the Eastern Conference by completing a pretty intriguing and solid trade to acquire veteran center Luis Scola from the Suns.
The Pacers acquired Scola for Gerald Green, Mason Plumlee and a future first round pick. For most this appears to be a clear sign the Pacers are in it to win the Eastern Conference and win the NBA title in 2014. Who could blame them after taking the Heat to the seventh and final game of the Eastern Conference?
To the Pacers fans, thank you guys for welcome me, I really wish I can help the team get farder. I won't stop working until I do. #Pacers
— Luis Scola (@LScola4) July 27, 2013
Indiana has spent its summer locking David West back up to a medium-sized three-year deal, that probably does not cover what he is truly worth to the team. The Pacers also added shooting in Chris Copeland and another year of fine seasoning.
Luis Scola would appear to add to the embarrassment of riches in the low post that features the aforementioned West and Roy Hibbert already.
Scola averaged 12.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game for the Suns last year. That was for a team that finished last in the Western Conference however. And with Alex Len entering the fold plus the addition of the Morris twins, Phoenix is in clear ebuild and salary shed mode. Marcin Gortat figures to be the next player on his way out of the Valley of the Sun.
The Suns are clearly rebuilding, the Pacers are clearly trying to go for a title.
And so shedding Green's somewhat silly contract signed last summer and taking on the two years and $9.3 million left on his deal seems to be the Pacers' ticket to remain in contention. Like many small market teams that see their window open suddenly, Indiana is trying to hold it open as long as it can. Particularly with the Heat reloaded for a third title run and the Nets trying to buy their way into the mix.
Indiana made this move without having to sacrifice any of its key pieces either. Danny Granger's expiring contract remains in place and could either be used to bring in another asset for the stretch run for the Pacers or used to keep Granger and let him try to become the All Star he was in 2009.
Then there is of course the flexibility Indiana maintained for the summer of 2015 and beyond when Paul George and Roy Hibbert begin to make decisions about their futures. George is a restricted free agent in 2014 and Hibbert has a player option in the summer of 2015.
The Pacers made themselves better this year by adding a veteran post player to bring off the bench and keep the team going. It was Indiana's inconsistent bench that had it pondering what could have been against those mighty champions from Miami.
Indiana's moves are not done yet though. The Pacers defensive mentality and offense should remain relatively the same. The team still lacks shooters to spread the floor. Defense can only keep a team in games for so long. That should be long enough to be among the East's elite. Shooting though is undoubtedly what separates the merely good teams from the real contenders.
The Pacers though showed they are serious about contending for the moment and bolstered that fledgling bench with Scola's pickup.