From 2008 to 2012, Luis Scola started all 304 NBA games in which he appeared . That wasn't expected to change after signing with the Phoenix Suns over the summer, but after their disappointing 5-7 start, Suns head coach Alvin Gentry made it clear changes were going to be made.
In a move Gentry labeled one of the hardest decisions he has ever had to make, Scola was moved to the bench for the first time since his rookie year in order to give the starting five more athleticism.
"I've been a fan of his since the day he walked in the league and to have to take him and put him on the bench," Gentry told Arizona Sports 620's Burns and Gambo. "I just thought that Markieff [Morris] and Marcin [Gortat] is a little bit better fit out there than Scola."
Scola initially struggled in his new role, scoring only four points on 2-of-4 shooting and providing a single rebound in 19 minutes of play against the Portland Trail Blazers last Wednesday. But in his last three games coming off the bench, Scola has scored in double digits while shooting 56 percent from the floor.
Gentry added that although Scola has expressed a desire to return to the starting lineup, he has remained a "true professional" and only wants to help the team win.
"That's what makes it extremely tough because all guys want to start; it's really kind of important for guys to start," said Gentry. "But he's accepted it, he doesn't like it and he expressed that but he said he's going to do whatever he has to to help the team. That's what I love the guy."
Along with Scola, forward Jared Dudley was benched in favor of the more explosive Shannon Brown. Gentry stressed fans shouldn't be quick to place blame for the Suns' poor start on Scola or Dudley, he simply made the changes he felt would most benefit the team.
"[Scola] was playing very good for us. He was not playing poorly. He or [Dudley], either one. [Dudley], hadn't shot the ball as well, but neither one of those guys were directly responsible for our poor start," said Gentry. "So, it's really tough to say ‘Ok you two guys are coming out' because everybody just assumed that they're the guys that aren't playing well but Scola was playing great for us."
When asked what it was like when he broke the news to Scola, Gentry praised the power forward's dedication to the team but also said he made it clear he belonged in the starting five.
"I think he felt like he was a starter and he is. He expressed that," said Gentry. "But, he also followed that up with ‘Coach, I'm a true professional and I'm going to do whatever I have to help this team win games.' That's why you love having a guy like him on your team."