Mike Muscala

Thunder Notes: Saric, Deadline Deals, Omoruyi, Sarr

Although he’s still just 28 years old, Dario Saric suddenly finds himself in the position of being his team’s oldest player following a trade from Phoenix to Oklahoma City last Thursday. Saric, who referred to the Thunder as a “high-level organization,” doesn’t sound like someone who will pursue a buyout from his new club, suggesting on Monday that he’s looking forward to taking on the role of veteran mentor in OKC.

“You’re always surprised,” Saric said of the trade, per Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. “That’s kind of how things go. At the end of the day, happy to be here. Happy to be part of this organization, a part of this group of young, talented guys who have a lot of years in front of them to play basketball.”

Asked about the role he anticipates playing with the Thunder, Saric said he doesn’t have any real expectations and is happy to play things by ear.

“I think I will go with the flow,” he said. “We’re gonna figure out everything, how the games go. I’m here open-minded, and coach (Mark Daigneault) says he’s open-minded.”

Here’s more on the Thunder:

  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is looking forward to seeing what Saric brings to the Thunder, but admitted it was tough to say goodbye to Darius Bazley and Mike Muscala at the trade deadline. Gilgeous-Alexander referred to the club’s locker room as “close-knit” and added that Bazley is “like a brother” to him. Daigneault, meanwhile, said he hopes Bazley and Muscala thrive with their new teams, Mussatto writes for The Oklahoman. “We want those guys to move on and continue to have success and contribute to the teams that they’re on,” the head coach said. “I think that would be a good reflection on the program.”
  • Eugene Omoruyi‘s new contract with the Thunder is a two-year, minimum-salary deal that isn’t guaranteed beyond this season, Hoops Rumors has learned. Oklahoma City will hold a non-guaranteed $1,927,896 team option on Omoruyi for the 2023/24 season following his promotion from a two-way contract last week.
  • As for Olivier Sarr‘s two-way deal, it only covers the rest of this season, Hoops Rumors has learned. Players who sign two-way contracts during the second half often agree to add a second year, but that’s not the case for Sarr, who will be eligible this summer for restricted free agency.

Eastern Notes: Korkmaz, McDaniels, Johnson, LeVert, Reddish, Celtics

Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey confirmed that Furkan Korkmaz requested a trade and said he tried find a new home for the sixth-year wing, Derek Bodner of The Daily Six tweets.

“Look, he’s a very good player,” the Sixers’ top exec said. “I think he would be in the rotation of many teams in the league, so we were hoping to help him out. He’s been a great partner with the organization.”

Morey added that Korkmaz has a “great attitude.” The Sixers did swing a deal for the Hornets’ Jalen McDaniels, who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season. Philadelphia would like to retain him, Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice relays. “I think he’s got starter potential. We’d like to obviously have him have a great run, help us win a championship this year, and then re-sign him,” Morey said Friday.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • James Johnson was waived by the Pacers due to a roster crunch in the aftermath of the Kevin Durant multi-team blockbuster. However, Indiana plans to bring back the forward if he clears waivers, Dustin Dopirak of the Indianapolis Star tweets. Johnson, who appeared in 12 games this season, attended the Pacers’ game on Friday.
  • Caris LeVert was relieved he wasn’t dealt by the Cavaliers, he told Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Just a feeling of relief,” he said. “Relief that nothing happened and I’m going to be here, having an opportunity to finish out the season and finish it out with this group. We have been playing great basketball. I think we’re all glad that the group stayed together and we’re excited to make this final push. Can’t wait to see how far we can go.” LeVert is headed to free agency after the season.
  • Cam Reddish fell out of the Knicks’ rotation well before he was dealt to the Trail Blazers this week. New York coach Tom Thibodeau said the “change” may be good for the young forward’s career, Fred Katz of The Athletic tweets. “I don’t know if it didn’t work,” he said. “I just think there were some good moments, some moments that probably could’ve been better and that’s part of the league. Sometimes you need a change.”
  • Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens said he wasn’t close to making another deal after acquiring Mike Muscala from the Thunder, implying that they weren’t really interested in making another move, Jared Weiss of The Athletic tweets.

Thunder Add Eugene Omoruyi To 15-Man Roster

10:51pm: Omoruyi’s new contract and promotion to the 15-man roster is official, according to a team press release.

6:58pm: The Thunder are converting forward Eugene Omoruyi‘s two-way contract to a standard deal, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

The contract will run through the 2023/24 season, Wojnarowski adds in another tweet. Details were not disclosed but it’s likely a minimum deal without a full guarantee for next season.

Omoruyi signed a two-way contract in early July.

He has appeared in 21 NBA games this season, including two starts. He’s averaged 5.0 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12.2 minutes per night.

The Thunder opened up a roster spot by trading Mike Muscala to Boston. Though Justin Jackson was sent to OKC in the deal, he was waived on Friday.

Omoruyi went undrafted in 2021 and spent time with the Mavericks on a two-way deal last year. He suffered a season-ending injury in December and was subsequently waived.

During his college career, he spent three seasons at Rutgers and one season at Oregon before declaring for the 2021 NBA draft.

Thunder Trade Mike Muscala To Celtics

9:54pm: The trade sending Muscala to Boston for Jackson and two second-round picks is official, according to a press release from the Thunder.

2:21pm: The Thunder will receive the Celtics’ 2029 second-round pick and the least favorable of Boston’s two 2023 second-round picks, tweets Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe.

The terms dictating which ’23 second-rounder OKC will acquire are complex, but the pick will almost certainly belong to either Dallas, Miami, or Portland.

10:55am: The Celtics will acquire big man Mike Muscala from the Thunder in exchange for Justin Jackson and two second-round picks, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Muscala, 31, has spent the last several seasons in Oklahoma City, playing a relatively consistent role as a solid floor-spacing frontcourt reserve as the team shifted from playoff contention into rebuilding mode.

Since joining the Thunder in 2019, Muscala has averaged 7.0 PPG and 3.0 RPG in 168 total games (14.5 MPG), making 1.5 threes per game at a 39.2% clip. Those numbers are very similar to the ones he has put up in 43 games (14.5 MPG) so far this season — 6.2 PPG, 3.1 RPG, and a .394 3PT%.

While Muscala isn’t exactly an impact player, he’s a good fit for a Celtics team that had been on the hunt for frontcourt insurance behind Robert Williams and Al Horford. The terms of Muscala’s contract give him the ability to veto a trade, but it’s hard to imagine he’d turn down the opportunity to join a legitimate title contender.

Since Jackson is on a minimum-salary contract, his $1.84MM cap hit isn’t enough to match Muscala’s incoming $3.5MM salary, so the Celtics will have to use a trade exception left over from last year’s trade deadline to acquire the big man. The Thunder will take on Jackson using the minimum salary exception, generating a new trade exception equivalent to Muscala’s $3.5MM salary.

Jackson is expected to be waived by the Thunder once the deal is complete, tweets Ian Begley of SNY.tv.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets, the deal projects to increase the Celtics’ luxury tax bill from about $58.9MM to $65.3MM.

Atlantic Notes: Hart, Thybulle, Raptors, Muscala

Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau is excited for the new addition of veteran swingman Josh Hart, according to Zach Braziller of The New York Post.

“I have great respect for him,” Thibodeau said. “He’s been a top-flight competitor in the league for a long time, and he brings a lot of intangibles to the game… A lot of respect for him.”

Thibodeau would not offer insight into whether he would start Hart or make his rotation deeper now. In his 51 games for Portland this season, Hart is averaging 9.5 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 3.9 APG, and 1.1 SPG.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The Sixers got close to sending defensive stopper Matisse Thybulle to the Mavericks this year, but Dallas was uninterested in including a first-round draft pick in the offing, reports Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The two-time All-Defensive Teamer was instead shipped out to the Trail Blazers as part of a four-team trade today.
  • Raptors team president Masai Ujiri explained why, beyond bolstering their frontcourt depth with their deal for center Jakob Poeltl, the team opted to not make any other major moves at the trade deadline, despite attracting significant interest around the league, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. “The way I look at the deadline (is) it’s really not a great place to make long-term decisions,” Ujiri said. “To be fair (to) this team, I think I haven’t done my part for this team to maybe play a little bit better… I think we needed a big like Jak (to) protect the rim, who these guys have confidence in — a really good passer, a big body, one of our own, which I think really fits.”
  • The Celtics opted to augment their bench depth with sharpshooting forward Mike Muscala at the trade deadline. Jared Weiss of The Athletic unpacks how Muscala will help Boston in some major areas of need for the 2022/23 season’s home stretch.

Scotto’s Latest: Bulls, Mavs, Suns, Muscala, Wright

A number of NBA executives who have spoken to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype are “closely monitoring” the Bulls, Scotto told co-host Yossi Gozlan in the latest episode of the HoopsHype podcast. With Chicago off to an underwhelming 9-14 start and with no indication of when Lonzo Ball might be back on the court, teams are curious to see whether the club might become a seller.

There’s “a lot” of league-wide interest in DeMar DeRozan, according to Scotto, who says Nikola Vucevic is another name that figures to pop up in trade rumors over the next couple months. Scotto adds that some teams would have interest in Zach LaVine too, but the Bulls seem unlikely to move him midway through the first season of a five-year, maximum-salary contract.

Having signed with the Bulls over the summer, Goran Dragic and Andre Drummond will become trade-eligible on December 15, and Scotto suggests they could be worth keeping an eye on if Chicago does decide to sell, since both players are low-cost veterans who could slide into rotation roles on playoff teams.

Here are a few more highlights from the podcast:

  • With JaVale McGee out of the rotation, it’s possible the Mavericks could peruse the trade market in search of another center. According to Scotto, if Dallas does look into that possibility, any trade target would have to be an upgrade defensively and a contrast to Christian Wood.
  • Scotto has heard from some executives that the Suns ideally don’t want to add any extra salary to their books in a Jae Crowder trade. Crowder is on an expiring $10.2MM deal.
  • Thunder big man Mike Muscala drew interest from about 10 teams as a free agent this past offseason, so if Oklahoma City is willing to make him available, he’d likely be a popular low-cost target, says Scotto. Due to the terms of his contract, Muscala has the ability to veto any trade that involves him.
  • The Wizards hope to get Delon Wright within the next two weeks, per Scotto. A weekend report suggested the veteran guard could even be back in action this week.

Muscala Has Pinky Fracture, Will Be Reevaluated In Two Weeks

Thunder big man Mike Muscala fractured his left pinky finger against the Knicks on Monday, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman relays via a tweet from the team’s PR department. Muscala won’t play for the next two weeks and then the injury will be reevaluated.

Muscala has appeared in 14 of Oklahoma City’s 17 games this season, averaging 6.0 points and 3.5 rebounds in 12.8 minutes per game. A forward/center capable of stretching the floor, Muscala is off to a slow start from the perimeter, making just 31.8% of his 3-point attempts.

Muscala, who is in his fourth season with the Thunder, averaged a career-best 42.9% from deep last season. He was re-signed to a two-year, $7MM contract this summer. He’s not eligible to be traded until Dec. 15 and also has the right to veto a trade. The team holds an option on his salary for next season.

Eugene Omoruyi potentially could pick up additional minutes in Muscala’s absence.

Contract Details: Muscala, Harden, Blazers, More

The new contract that veteran forward/center Mike Muscala signed with the Thunder is essentially identical to the one he signed with the team in 2021, Hoops Rumors has learned.

Muscala’s new deal covers two years and has matching $3.5MM cap hits in each of those two seasons for a total of $7MM. The first year is guaranteed, while the second year is a team option. All of those details also applied to the two-year, $7MM contract he signed in ’21.

The Thunder chose to decline Muscala’s $3.5MM team option for 2022/23 back in June, but will now pay him that exact salary next season, with another $3.5MM team option for ’23/24. Since Oklahoma City had Muscala’s Bird rights, the club didn’t have to dip into its mid-level exception to complete the signing.

Here are a few more details on recently signed contracts from around the NBA:

  • James Harden‘s new two-year contract with the Sixers will pay him exactly $33MM in 2022/23 and includes a 2023/24 player option worth $35.64MM. The two-year, $68.64MM pact includes a 15% trade kicker.
  • The training camp contracts that Norvel Pelle and Isaiah Miller signed with the Trail Blazers include Exhibit 10 language. That gives Portland the option of converting either contract into a two-way deal before the regular season begins.
  • The new two-way contracts signed by Duane Washington (Suns) and Trent Forrest (Hawks) are each just for one season.

Thunder Officially Sign Mike Muscala

The Thunder have officially signed veteran big man Mike Muscala, the team announced in a press release today. Oklahoma City originally agreed to re-sign the 31-year-old during the initial hours of free agency on June 30 and now has a full 20-man offseason roster.

Muscala, 6’10”, played 43 games with the Thunder last season. He averaged 8.0 points and 3.0 rebounds, playing 13.8 minutes per contest. He also shot 45.6% from the floor and 42.9% from deep.

As of now, Muscala is the oldest player on Oklahoma City’s roster. He and Derrick Favors, also 31, can serve as mentors to young players such as Josh Giddey, Chet Holmgren and Aleksej Pokusevski — whether on the court or in the locker room.

Muscala first joined the Thunder as a free agent in 2019. Before that, he was drafted No. 44 overall in 2013 and played for the Hawks, Sixers and Lakers. He’s expected to provide frontcourt depth for a team that finished just 24-58 last season.

Assuming Muscala signed a fully guaranteed contract, he’s the 17th Thunder player with a guaranteed salary for 2022/23. Vit Krejci also has a partial guarantee, so the team will have to trade or release three players before opening night to get down to the 15-man regular season limit.

Mike Muscala To Return To Thunder

Veteran center Mike Muscala will return to the Thunder on a one-year veteran’s minimum contract, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (via Twitter).

The club declined its $3.5MM team option on Muscala prior to the start of free agency. The veteran’s minimum for a player with nine years of NBA service is projected to be $2,641,682.

Initially drafted by the Hawks with the No. 44 pick in 2013 out of Bucknell, Muscala eventually evolved into a modern floor-spacing power forward/center. He split the 2018/19 season between the Sixers and Lakers. Muscala first signed with the Thunder in 2019.

The longtime vet, who turns 31 tomorrow, has spent his last three seasons with Oklahoma City. In 43 games last year for a rebuilding Thunder club, Muscala averaged 8.0 PPG and 3.0 RPG during 13.8 MPG. On offense, the 6’10” big man has carved out a niche as a bench shooting threat, boasting a career three-point conversion rate of 37.7% on 2.5 tries a game. Last season, he connected on 42.9% of his 3.8 looks a night.

Muscala joins fellow re-signed OKC veteran Luguentz Dort in returning to a rebuilding Thunder club loaded with present and future young assets.

Oklahoma City enjoyed one of the most active drafts among any NBA team this year, selecting Gonzaga power forward/center Chet Holmgren, NZ Breakers wing Ousmane Dieng, and Santa Clara guard Jalen Williams in the lottery. Ever the completist, team president Sam Presti also grabbed Arkansas power forward Jaylin Williams with the No. 34 pick in the second round. They join a team loaded with other exciting young players in Dort, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, Tre Mann, and Darius Bazley.