The Pacers went through a massive identity change this past offseason when Larry Bird decided to let Roy Hibbert, David West and Luis Scola walk in free agency. Brute force was exchanged for a swift, fast-paced style with Paul George shifting down to the power forward position. The transition has been a success thus far with the Pacers sporting an impressive 15-9 record. Although reluctant to play with the big boys down low, Paul George has looked like a top-5 player in the first quarter of the season, while staying fresh with C.J. Miles handling opposing fours.
The Pacers’ only hindrance lies in their frontcourt depth. Without Hibbert, West or Scola, the Pacers are left with Ian Mahimni, Jordan Hill and Lavoy Allen as their big man rotation. All three are capable NBA players, but their skill sets overlap. Losing Scola left the Pacers without a low post scoring threat that Frank Vogel could employ as a change of pace.
When Vogel spoke to the Toronto Sun before their game against the Raptors, it was clear he wanted Scola to stick around:
“One of my favourite players of all time,” Vogel said when Scola’s name was raised pre-game. “One of them, yeah. Just a guy who has a great approach in the locker room, did his job and it carries over to his teammates and the entire team. He’s just a winner, he plays harder than everybody on the court every time he is out there and it’s no surprise he is helping contribute to their winning culture.”
It’s when the question of how he was ever allowed to leave is raised that you get the real sense of how Vogel feels.
“You would have to talk to Larry about that,” Vogel said tersely.
Scola has never been a dominant low-post scorer, but he does a lot of the subtle things coaches love. He’s the smart, heady veteran who can make one or two plays that can win a playoff game. Vogel knows this, but he can only watch as Scola makes winning plays in a Raptors uniform.
(Via Toronto Sun)