Pacers Close to Dealing Gerald Green for Luis Scola

UPDATE: This is a officially done deal, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.

 

A couple of weeks ago, Pacer GM Larry Bird mentioned to Grady and Big Joe that the Pacers were still hoping to make another move, but it would have to be a trade due to their cap situation. It looks like that deal might happen this weekend, with the news coming from an unexpected source.

Yeah, I can’t exactly read it, either – took French in high school – but the message is clear.

Juan Sebastia of scola4.com is reporting that Luis Scola is going to the Pacers, and the official announcement will come today (Saturday). From there, Marc Stein and Adrian Wojnarowski picked up the reporting, fleshing it out a bit, identifying Gerald Green as the main piece heading out.

Woj explains further in his piece on Yahoo!

The Pacers and Suns were finalizing the players and possible picks involved in the deal on Friday night, and front-office sources expected an agreement to be finalized soon.

While the deal was still being finalized overnight, the Pacers will minimally send the Suns a future first-round draft pick, as well as possible additional draft and cash considerations to go along with guard Gerald Green, sources told Yahoo! Sports.

If true, this is another example of Bird’s legendary patience paying off. It’s been no secret that the Pacers were looking to trade Gerald Green, who had been very disappointing after signing a three-year, $10.5 million deal last season. However, the general buzz was that there was no market for him. Now it appears that Bird as been able to move him and get a target “the Pacers have been pursuing for weeks,” according to Woj.

Of course, it looks like it will cost at least a first round pick, as well, but that may not be a bad thing.

From a talent perspective, this is a huge win for the Pacers. The 33-year old Scola is a savvy offensive player and a decent rebounder, who will help a bench that was laughably inept at scoring points last season. Scola is a pedestrian defender, but the Pacer team concepts should help cover that up.

Minute distribution will be interesting to watch for Coach Frank Vogel this season. The Pacers only gave Tyler Hansbrough – West’s primary relief – about 16 minutes a night in games where West played. Scola has averaged almost 30-minutes a night over his career – never less than 24 (in his rookie year). There are extra minutes to be found, though.

First, given the Pacers hopes of a deep playoff run, I’m sure they’ll be happy to reduce David West’s load from the over 33 minutes a night he clocked last season. It’s easy to see another 5 minutes a night coming by switching back to the 2012 distribution, when West averaged 29 and Hansbrough got almost 22 a game.

The second place is to see West and Scola share the floor on in short bursts on a consistent basis. This type of “Small Big” lineup was used only sparingly the last two years with West and Hansbrough. During the last two regular seasons, the two power forwards only played together for 395 total minutes, or a little under 6% of the available minutes. This approach met with mixed success, posting a +46 in 118 minutes last year, but -48 in 277 minutes in 2012.

However, Luis Scola is a pretty sizable upgrade over Tyler Hansbrough. A few minutes a night feature David West and Luis Scola make for some intriguing offensive opportunities, if Vogel and his staff can capitalize. However, it would mean significantly altering their signature defensive style on a regular basis. It’s an interesting conundrum. The Pacers defense got them to the Eastern Conference Finals, but their offense probably kept them from going farther.

The second area this complicates is the money side, and that’s where dealing a future 1st rounder may be of some benefit.

Scola is scheduled to make just over $4.5 million this season and little under $4.9 million next (next years. Gerald Green was to be paid $3.5 million in each of the next two seasons. (Source: Shamsports) The additional money this season (about $1.0 million) won’t be a problem, as the Pacers have about $2.7 million of room left under the tax threshold this season.

But, next season…

If the Pacers pick up Miles Plumlee’s third year option, they will be at $53.3 million, or $22.4 million under the projected luxury tax threshold – a figure they have said repeatedly, for years, they will not exceed. That sounds like a lot of money, until you realize what Indiana will likely have to spend to re-sign Paul George and Lance Stephenson.

It is an almost mortal lock that Paul George will command a “Max” contract beginning in 2014-2015. The standard 25% max available to 4th year players will put his pay for next season at over $14.6 million (estimated). However, if PG should get another All NBA nod – a very realistic possibility – then he would be eligible for the 30% max, potentially putting his 2014-15 salary as high as $17.5 million.

Lance Stephenson will command considerably less than Paul, but his raise should be expected to be substantial. If he performs as well this coming season as last, it’s reasonable to peg him at least at the Mid-Level, or about $5.3 million. It could easily be more.

You can see, $22 million doesn’t go as far as it once did. If the “future 1st” they’ve reportedly included in the deal is next year’s, then they’ll probably get about $1 million in extra breathing space to deal with the task of keeping the core together. Remember, the only thing guaranteed about a (likely late-) first round pick is the salary.

But, these are what they call one a them-there “good” problems to have. We still have to wait for this to become official, but until then I give you the thoughts of Luis Scola’s countryman – and friend to 8p9s – @gastonblanco17

 

 

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