Mike Muscala

Southeast Notes: Leonsis, Stone, Mahinmi

The Wizards have made no secret their plan to double down on their current core and a recent blog post from franchise owner Ted Leonsis only further documents how Washington plans to craft a winner.

The Wizards boast the youngest core of long-term signed max players, a testament to their willingness to commit to their guys, and they’re not afraid to dip into the luxury tax in order to preserve what they think is going to work eventually.

Further, Leonsis writes, the Wizards plan to invest in basketball development at all levels, citing the team’s acquisition of a G League club and plans for a new arena to house the Washington Mystics of the WNBA.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

Players Who Can Veto Trades In 2017/18

No-trade clauses are rare in the NBA, but one such provision has been the subject of much discussion so far in 2017, as Carmelo Anthony made use of his NTC to block the Knicks from sending him to an undesirable destination. For much of the offseason, Anthony was focused on joining the Rockets, but he eventually agreed to a deal that sent him to Oklahoma City.

Anthony is one of just two NBA players whose contract includes an explicit no-trade clause, but there are still several players each year who have the ability to veto trades. A player who re-signs with his previous team on a one-year contract – or a two-year deal with an option year – is given no-trade protection, and so is a player who signs an offer sheet and has that offer matched by his previous team. Players who accept qualifying offers after their rookie deals expire can also block deals, though no restricted free agents have signed their QOs so far this year.

Taking into account that list of criteria, here are the players who must give their consent if their teams want to trade them during the 2017/18 league year:

No-trade clauses

Players whose offer sheets were matched

  • Otto Porter (Wizards)
    • Note: Even with his consent, Porter cannot be traded to the Nets during the 2017/18 league year.

Players accepting qualifying offers

Players re-signing for one year (or two years including an option)

In addition to the players listed above who can veto trades through the 2017/18 league year, there’s another small handful of players who can’t be dealt under any circumstance until at least next July. The following players signed a Designated Veteran Extension this season, which precludes them from being traded for a full calendar year:

Information from Basketball Insiders and ESPN was used in the creation of this post.

Hawks Re-Sign Mike Muscala

JULY 25: The Hawks have officially re-signed Muscala, the team announced today in a press release. Finalizing Muscala’s deal cuts into Atlanta’s remaining cap room, suggesting that the club may not have any immediate plans to maximize that space.

JULY 7: The Hawks have agreed to a two-year, $10MM deal with free agent big man Mike Muscala, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical (Twitter link). The agreement will feature a second-year player option, Charania adds (via Twitter).

Muscala, who turned 26 last Saturday, appeared in a career-high 70 games for the Hawks in 2016/17, setting new career highs in PPG (6.2), RPG (3.4), and several other categories as he saw his role in the rotation expand.

With Dwight Howard and Paul Millsap no longer in the picture in Atlanta, the team was in need of frontcourt depth. While the Hawks figure to add at least one or two more bigs to the roster at some point, Muscala could be in line for even more minutes going forward for the retooling franchise.

The Hawks have a minimum salary cap hold on their books and hold the Bird rights for Muscala, who has spent the last four seasons in Atlanta. So his new agreement won’t affect the team’s remaining cap room until it becomes official. It also won’t have an impact on the club’s ability to match the Knicks’ offer sheet for Tim Hardaway Jr., though it’s not clear if the Hawks are seriously considering doing so.

Southeast Notes: Wall, Porter, Bosh, Muscala, Riley, Ellington

Wizards star point guard John Wall is making no apologies for his aggressive recruitment of Paul George during free agency, writes Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. Many observers took Wall’s comments as a slight against the team’s current small forward Otto Porter, but Wall explained his comments in a different way:

“Otto’s going to be a great player for us, a great role player for a lot of teams. There’s a difference between a role player and a superstar. It’s a big difference. There’s a lot teams that will make a lot of trades for a superstar. Look at Kevin Love getting traded for Andrew Wiggins, you never know who that player going to turn out to be.”

Buckner also points out that Wall is not in a rush regarding his own extension. Last season Wall qualified for the designated player exception after making the All-NBA third team. Wall maintained that he’s devoted to the city of Washington and plans to carefully consider whether he wishes to remain a Wizard in the long term. An extension could keep Wall in the District for the next six years.

Here’s what else you should know from the Southeast division:

  • Former Heat star Chris Bosh penned an open letter to the city of Miami, thanking its residents for the past seven years of support. The 33-year-old power forward credited Miamians for showing him “how to stay strong and push through in the toughest moments,” which has “made [him] a better man, the person [he is] today.” In the letter, Bosh did not broach the topics of his current health or his future plans.
  • Hawks big man Mike Muscala viewed his return to Atlanta as a “no-brainer,” writes Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Last week, Muscala agreed to a two-year, $10MM contract to remain with the Hawks.
  • Heat president Pat Riley opined on various Heat players, with his comments about Wayne Ellington particularly effusive: “It would have killed me to see him go. He committed himself unlike anybody else. And just like James Johnson and Dion [Waiters], changed everything about how he played…And he’s so in, so committed, and he can see what did for himself with our help, and how it improved his game. He’s one of the best catch-and-shoot players in the league.” Riley goes on to mention that the team has Early Bird Rights on Ellington and credits the player’s loss of 20 pounds with yielding many benefits on the court. Ellington’s $6.3MM contract was guaranteed on Friday.

Southeast Notes: Richardson, White, Kaba

The Wizards are no closer to landing Paul George than they were a week ago but recent comments from John Wall have resurrected speculation that he could possibly end up in D.C. Per CSN Mid-Atlantic’s J. Michael, there are a number of things that would need to happen for the pipe dream to become a reality, here are just a few:

For starters, the Wizards will have to come to terms with something that all of George’s other suitors have already come to terms with: they would need to build an appealing enough package of young players and assets without any guarantee that they’ll get to re-sign him next summer.

The Wizards would also need Otto Porter to be up for a sign-and-trade, something that would require him to take less money than he’s eligible for, just to pack his bags and move to Indianapolis.

Even if the Wizards did manage to land George and played him alongside Wall and Bradley Beal, however, the organization would be extremely crunched financially for the foreseeable future.

There’s more from the Southeast Division tonight:

  • Don’t expect the Magic to make a major splash in free agency, Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel writes. The team would need to reel off a series of moves just to clear up space for a major signing and that’s not really their focus at this point in time.
  • Coming off a season in which he averaged career highs, Hawks center Mike Muscala is experiencing unrestricted free agency for the first time. He spoke with Jerry Zgoda of the Star-Tribune about the process. “It’s crazy how basketball can change from high school to college to the NBA and what you work on, what you’re compensated for,” he said, referring to his coveted skill set as a three-point shooting big man. “I’ve found if you do things the right way — if you play the right way, if you work on your game, if you’re a good teammate — you’ll be rewarded for it.”
  • The Heat will retain Okaro White and Josh Richardson, thus guaranteeing their contracts (or in White’s case, partially guaranteeing the deal he signed last season). Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel writes about how Richardson’s $1.5MM for 2017/18 will be locked in after Friday and how White will clinch $226K on Saturday.
  • One of the major areas that the Wizards will need to improve upon next year is in their backcourt depth, J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic says. They’ve already gotten a head start in doing so with their addition of Tim Frazier.
  • Second-round draft pick Alpha Kaba will play with the Hawks‘ summer league team before deciding where to play next season, Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets.

Southeast Notes: Reed, Hardaway, Muscala, Morris

Willie Reed hasn’t announced his intentions, but the Heat center sounds like he plans to opt out this summer. Reed, who is scheduled to make $1.6MM next season, is coming off a promising second NBA season in which he played 71 games and averaged 5.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per night. It was his first year in Miami after starting his career in Brooklyn. “I don’t know what it’s going to be like for me, to be honest,” Reed told Anthony Chiang of the Palm Beach Post about free agency. “Obviously I’ve never been in a position like this before. So I’m just trying to trust the process with things that I’ve done before, continue to work on my body, continue to work on my game and then deal with that when the time comes.” The Heat expect to have about $38MM to spend once Chris Bosh‘s contract is cleared from their books, but they have other priorities in free agency, such as keeping Dion Waiters and James Johnson.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Matching an offer sheet for Tim Hardaway Jr. could be the Hawks‘ toughest decision of the offseason, writes Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution. Hardaway is a restricted free agent after the team elected not to give him a qualifying offer last fall. He responded with his best season as a pro, averaging 14.5 points per game and starting 30 of the 79 games that he played. “That’s why I have an agent to do all the talk with the organization here and see what best fits for me,” Hardaway said. “I love it here. Atlanta brought me here and it really felt like I was starting all over as a rookie when I got here. They made me go through some tough times. They made me mature as a person on and off the court. And made me appreciate the game a whole lot more when I first came in the league. That’s what I’m thankful for.”
  • Fourth-year big man Mike Muscala is also a first-time free agent and the Hawks haven’t indicated if they’ll try to keep him, Vivlamore writes in a separate piece. “Atlanta is a special place for me,” said Muscala, who has spent his entire career with the team. “I feel like the organization is headed in the right direction with the ownership and the coaching staff, practice facility. I’ve loved my time here.”
  • Wizards forward Markieff Morris sat out practice today with a badly sprained left ankle that he suffered in Sunday’s Game 1 against the Celtics, according to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. The team hasn’t commented on his availability for Tuesday’s Game 2, but Morris has already made up his mind. “I’m playing tomorrow. It’s final,” he said. “There’s nothing the doctors can say to me for me not to be able to play.” Injured center Ian Mahinmi also was held out of practice today, tweets J. Michael of CSNWashington.

Southeast Notes: Deng, Muscala, Zeller

The Wizards and Luol Deng were working on a three-year deal worth roughly $52MM before the small forward received the four-year, $72MM deal from the Lakers, Zach Lowe of ESPN.com reports. Lowe adds that Washington was stunned to learn of Los Angeles’ offer, which Deng ultimately agreed to.

Here’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Heat thought they had a chance to re-sign Deng this summer, but they couldn’t compete with the Lakers’ offer, Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News writes. “We thought there was a chance we would get him at a way smaller number,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “There was that discussion that he wanted to come back and we wanted him to come back. But we obviously weren’t in a position to make that kind of deal.”
  • Deng said he wanted to re-sign with the Heat if he didn’t receive the offer from Los Angeles, but he believes the team wasn’t going to make bringing him back a priority, Medina relays in the same piece. “It’s not like I would’ve gone there,” Deng said. “They probably would have had the money and gotten someone else better.”
  • Mike Muscala could be the next free agent sleeper, Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders contends. Muscala is in the final year of his deal with the Hawks and big man admits that free agency is something that he has thought about. “Yeah, you know I think [free agency is] always in the back of your mind, but you just got to take it game by game,” Muscala said. “I think I’ve been trying to do that my whole career.”
  • The Hornets moved Cody Zeller to the center spot and he’s found success in his new role, as USA Today details. “I mean, he’s a 5-man,” Clifford said. “The way the league is now he’s a 5, at both ends of the floor. And it definitely suits him better.”

Southeast Notes: Ellington, Redick, Wall

The Heat haven’t had much luck keeping their swingmen at full strength this season and Wayne Ellington is the latest to fall victim to an injury. After Ellington missed the first 16 games of the season with a bruised right thigh, a “slight strain of his hamstring” could keep the 29-year-old out of action heading forward, writes Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel.

Playing the heaviest workload of his career (30.8 minutes per game), the shooting guard has average 12.9 points per contest and three times since late November had put up 17 or more. The Heat, of course, have also dealt with injuries to Dion Waiters and Justise Winslow, the former of which is still sidelined, the latter of which has just recently returned.

There’s more from the Southeast Division.

  • For the first time in his career, Mike Muscala is playing a significant role in the Hawks‘ rotation, says KL Chouinard of the team’s official website. The 25-year-old couldn’t have picked a better time for a breakout season than in a contract year coming off of a minimum salary deal. Muscala has shot an impressive .455 from three-point range which complements his modest but productive 8.3 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.
  • J.J. Redick will be a free agent this summer and may consider returning to the Magic. According to Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel, the sharp-shooting two-guard “hasn’t ruled out” returning to the club that drafted him back in 2006. Redick played parts of seven seasons in Orlando, before bouncing to the Bucks and eventually the Clippers.
  • The new collective bargaining agreement’s designated veteran exception will add significance to player awards and accolades, says Candace Bucker of the Washington Post. This, she writes, could impact the earnings of All-Stars like Wizards points guard John Wall, who’ve felt slighted and undervalued in the past.

Hawks Notes: Howard, Koonin, Reserves

The addition of center Dwight Howard and a change in coach Mike Budenholzer’s approach has dramatically improved the Hawks’ offensive rebounding, KL Chouinard of the team’s website relays. The Hawks ranked at the bottom in the NBA in that category last season but sit No. 3 in the early going. Howard leads the league with a 4.9 offensive rebounding average, as the Hawks’ bigs have been given greater freedom to pursue those caroms, Chouinard adds. “I would call it a slight tweak or an emphasis, but not at the expense of transition defense,” Budenholzer told Chouinard. “[It’s] an emphasis of ‘Can we be better on the offensive boards? Can we take advantage of who we have and be more committed there?’ I think the guys have done a nice job of doing that and they have been rewarded.”

In other news regarding the Hawks:
  • CEO Steve Koonin signed a new three-year contract with the team this summer, Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Koonin signed a contract with the previous ownership group in April 2014. Principal owner Tony Ressler, who purchased the team in June 2015, decided to keep Koonin on board. He oversees the team’s business, financial and strategic operations, Vivlamore adds.
  • The Hawks didn’t spend heavily on their reserves but that unit is paying big dividends, Vivlamore writes in a separate story. Swingman Thabo Sefolosha ($3.85MM salary this season) ranks second in the league in steals (2.6 per game), sixth in field goal percentage (60.0) and sixth in plus/minus rating (plus-78) despite averaging 25 minutes per game. Big man Mike Muscala ($1MM) leads the league in field goal percentage at 66%, while guards Malcolm Delaney ($2.5MM) and Tim Hardaway Jr. rank among the top 20 in plus/minus rating. “Everyone on this team can play, a guy in the starting five, a guy from the bench, everybody can contribute big time,” Sefolosha told Vivlamore. “Different night, different guy steps up.”

Eastern Notes: Hoiberg, Muscala, Noah

The Bulls added experience this offseason in Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo, potentially at the cost of putting a cohesive unit on the court, but coach Fred Hoiberg believes his new look roster can be effective on offense, Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com relays. “The biggest thing is we have multiple playmakers now, we have guys who can get in and break down the defense,” Hoiberg said. “That’s the most important thing to have on an NBA roster is multiple ballhandlers, multiple playmakers. Bigs who are gonna set screens and put pressure on the rim.”

Rondo is a point guard who I think will thrive in the system we like to run and then to get Dwyane, we didn’t have to give up any of the young pieces in the process,” Hoiberg continued. “We’re able to stay competitive with players with championship experience. To pair those two guys with Jimmy Butler, it’ll be a dynamic and exciting backcourt.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • New Knicks center Joakim Noah has no ill feelings toward the Bulls and appreciates the time he spent in Chicago, but is still looking forward to facing his old franchise this coming season, writes K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. “I have no anger towards nobody,” Noah said. “If we had a couple rough years at the end, I’m just still so grateful for the opportunity the Bulls gave me. It’s like a family to me. Even though it’s a new chapter for the end of my career to be in New York, I think Chicago is always going to be a home to me.
  • With Dwight Howard and Tiago Splitter on the Hawks‘ roster, Mike Muscala is focusing on improving his versatility and outside shooting in an effort to earn more minutes, writes Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution.
  • The Magic are close to naming Lakeland, Florida as the new home of their D-League affiliate, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders relays (on Twitter).
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