When the Indiana Pacers agreed with the Phoenix Suns to a trade that would send Indiana veteran power forward Luis Scola for the 2013-14 NBA season, the reaction was nearly unanimously positive. Most people believed that the addition of Scola would make the Pacers better this season and help them to challenge the Miami Heat in the East.
However, one of the drawbacks of acquiring Scola is the fact that they are now more crowded in terms of their reserve frontcourt, which means some guys minutes were going to be cut with Scola arriving. Despite being pursued and subsequently signed as a free-agent by the Pacers this summer, Chris Copeland has seen his minutes be cut by the addition of Scola.
When Indiana initially signed Copeland, I was excited about the dynamic play he could bring to the Pacers’ bench. In his first season in the NBA with the New York Knicks last season, he continually impressed and earned minutes, largely due to his abilities as an offensive player. For a team like Indiana whose bench was offensively deficient, adding a player like Copeland seemed like a huge move.
With Scola in the mix, though, Copeland has appeared in just eight of the Pacers’ 14 games and is playing only 6.6 minutes per game. No surprisingly, he’s been productive, even in such little time on the floor, averaging 3.9 points per game on 45.5 percent shooting and 47.4 percent three-point shooting.
Scola has been solid this season as well, but it’s a shame that Copeland doesn’t really have a role in this offense. Obviously the Pacers want to play David West and Scola at the four while Paul George is playing a ton of minutes at the three, which really doesn’t leave much room for Copeland. Ultimately, you have to wonder if Copeland will be dealt down the line, especially if C.J. Watson continues to struggle off of the bench. What’s for sure now, though, is that Copeland, by no one’s fault and really as a result of how good this Pacers team is, is being underutilized in Indiana.