The Rockets, weak at the power forward spot last season and even more desperate for help after trading Juwan Howard away, have acquired an overseas leader at the position.
Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey announced today that the team has obtained the draft rights to Argentinean F Luis Scola and added F/C Jackie Butler in a trade with the San Antonio Spurs. As part of the trade, Houston sends G Vassilis Spanoulis, a second round draft pick in the 2009 draft and other considerations to San Antonio.
“Luis is one of the top five international players not currently in the NBA,” said Morey. “He adds experience and toughness at a position of need on our roster and is an NBA-ready player with a very high basketball I.Q. We expect him to have an immediate impact on our team.”
Scola (6-9, 245) was originally selected by the Spurs with the 56th overall selection of the 2002 NBA Draft. The Spurs retained his draft rights while he continued to play with Tau Ceramica in the Euroleague. The 27 year-old averaged 15.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists this past season for Tau Ceramica on his way to earning All-Euroleague First Team honors. His seven-year totals with Tau Ceramica include averages of 14.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 144 career games.
As a member of the Argentinean National Team in 2004, he averaged 17.6 points and 5.0 rebounds en route to helping the team secure the nation’s first Olympic gold medal in basketball. Scola was twice (2005, 2006) named Spanish League regular season MVP, marking the third consecutive time an Argentinean player received that honor (Walter Hermann in 2003 and Andres Nocioni in 2004). He was also a member of the 2001-02 Spanish National Championship team just two seasons after being named the 1999-2000 Spanish League Rookie of the Year. His considerable list of international accomplishments also includes winning the silver medal at the 2002 World Championships, a gold medal in the 2001 Americas Championship and a silver medal at the 1999 South American Championship.
Butler (6-10, 260) was signed by the Spurs as a free agent on July 21, 2006 and saw action in 11 games last season, averaging 3.7 points and 2.0 rebounds. The 22 year-old began his NBA career with the New York Knicks where he spent two seasons and averaged 5.2 points and 3.2 rebounds in 58 games for the Knicks. His career averages are 5.0 points and 3.0 rebounds in 69 games.
Spanoulis (6-4, 195) appeared in 31 games and averaged 2.7 points and 0.9 assists in his only season in Houston. He was originally drafted 50th overall by the Dallas Mavericks in the 2004 NBA Draft before being traded to the Rockets for the draft rights to Luis Flores.