Thanks to house-cleaning efforts associated with the Houston Rockets' inspired quest to acquire Dwight Howard, the Phoenix Suns were able to land another power forward.
According to reports, the Suns have won a waiver auction that will deliver 32-year-old Luis Scola to Planet Orange. Scola, who was on the Rockets' payroll for another 21 million over the next three seasons, was designated for amnesty duty, making him available to auction bidders. The Rockets must pay the balance of Scola's contract, but his number will be removed from their salary cap.
With 10 million on the final year of Scola's deal not guaranteed, Phoenix had to enter a bid of at least 3.3 million per season and ante up 10 million over three years.
The Suns, whose attempt to land restricted free agent Eric Gordon was turned back when the New Orleans Hornets matched their offer sheet Saturday afternoon, reportedly have slapped their own amnesty tag on forward Josh Childress. Childress also was owed around 21 million over the next three seasons. Cutting Childress would provide enough cap relief for the Suns to keep back-up center Robin Lopez and look for another shooting guard option after losing Gordon.
Unrestricted free-agent two guard O.J. Mayo visited Phoenix on Friday.
Scola, a crafty operator on the block and facing up from mid-range, averaged 15.5 points and 6.5 rebounds for Houston last season. One year earlier, he provided the Rockets with 18.3 and 8.2, respectively.
"I don't know all of the details, but ... he's a real solid guy ... he's been a real solid guy," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said of Scola during an interview on NBATV following the Suns' summer-league opener. "He's a good, cerebral guy who knows how to play."
Pending further roster maneuvers, Scola will join a Phoenix power-forward legion that includes Channing Frye, Markieff Morris, Hakim Warrick and Michael Beasley. Beasley, an unrestricted free agent, verbally agreed to a deal with the Suns that was held up while Phoenix awaited the Gordon situation and the cap affect. He spent considerable time working at small forward for the Minnesota Timberwolves over the past two seasons, and figures to play some three for Phoenix.
While Scola doesn't figure to help upgrade the Suns defensively, he'll provide scoring punch and versatility regardless of how Gentry massages the lineup.
FANCY PASSING FROM SUMMER LEAGUE POINT GUARD
During Sunday's 99-74 triumph over the New York Knicks' hapless summer league squad, the Suns received an efficient dime-dropping effort from a young point guard candidate.
But it wasn't first-round pick Kendall Marshall.
No, the assist machine in their Las Vegas opener was Diante Garrett, a second-year pro who worked for two teams in Europe last year after completing a stellar career at Iowa State.
Garrett, who finished Sunday's game with 10 assists, was the Summer Suns' starter because Marshall -- also waiting for the Gordon offer-sheet drama to be reconciled -- was unable to sign his contract in time to take on the Knicks. He's expected to participate in Phoenix's remaining four summer league games.
Morris led the Suns with 21 points and 9 rebounds.
IN THE KNICK OF TIMELESS
Just in case the NBA creates a seniors' tour, the New York Knicks reportedly are interested in signing 39-year-old Phoenix Suns' free agent forward Grant Hill.
Hill, also mentioned as an option for the Miami Heat and Steve Nash's Los Angeles Lakers, could join Knick newcomers Jason Kidd (39), Kurt Thomas (he'll be 40 in October) and Marcus Camby (38).
That would give New York at least four players who might be able to remember when the Knicks were good.