San Antonio's 2002 draft pick Scola signs with Rockets

Updated: July 17, 2007, 6:44 PM ET
Associated Press

HOUSTON -- Five years after being drafted, Luis Scola has finally signed with an NBA team.

Scola, who was chosen by San Antonio in the 2002 draft but never played for the Spurs, was introduced as the newest member of the Houston Rockets on Tuesday.

The Spurs held his rights since 2002 while he continued to play for Tau Ceramica of the Euroleague. The Rockets obtained the draft rights to the Argentinian forward and acquired Jackie Butler in exchange for Vassilis Spanoulis in a trade last week with the Spurs. Houston also had to give up a second-round pick in the 2009 draft for Scola.

"Luis fills a position of need," Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said. "We thought he was the best guy out there and we worked really hard to get him here."

The 6-foot-9, 245-pound Scola helped the Argentinian National Team to an Olympic Gold Medal in 2004 and was named the Spanish League regular season most valuable player in both 2005 and 2006.

New coach Rick Adelman thinks Scola will help in the continued development of Yao Ming.

"I looked at a lot of tape on Luis and how he plays and I think he's going to be a great attribute to Yao," Adelman said. "He's very active."

Adelman thinks Scola's style of play will fit nicely into his system.

"In the offense that we like to run, we like to have a lot of activity on the floor to make it easier for your better players to be effective," Adelman said. "I think he can do that as far as cutting to the basket or passing the ball. I think it's going to be easy for him. I think he's going to fit right in there."

Scola, 27, said he's excited to play with Yao and All-Star Tracy McGrady and that they're the first thing he thought of when he learned he'd be playing for the Rockets.

"It's great to be with them," he said. "I'm sure they're going to help me much more than I'm going to help them."

He averaged 15.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists last season for Tau Ceramica to earn All-Euroleague first-team honors.

Scola believes the extra time he spent in the Euroleague will help in his transition to the NBA.

"I grew up not only as a player but as a person," he said. "I want to take this challenge to see if I can succeed."

Adelman said it was too soon to say if the Rockets expect Scola to start immediately, but he and Morey agree that Scola will contribute quickly.

"I think he can step in and be an effective player for us right away," Adelman said.

Though Scola has signed with the Rockets, his contract will not be effective until they complete the buyout of his contract with Tau Ceramica.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press