Mike Muscala

Lakers Notes: Simmons, Hart, Ball, Zubac

The Lakers released a statement stating that the Sixers had sought their permission for floor leader Ben Simmons to speak with team president Magic Johnson, Dave McMenamin of ESPN tweets. Philadelphia emailed the Lakers in November, according to the statement, asking if Simmons could speak with Johnson about his Hall of Fame career. Lakers GM Rob Pelinka subsequently told Sixers GM Elton Brand that Johnson could only do that with Philadelphia’s written pre-approval. That was the end of the matter, the release adds. The league has launched an investigation to determine if any communication between the parties violated league rules.

We have more on the Lakers:

  • Guard Josh Hart received a PRP injection to treat tendinitis in his right knee, according to a team press release. Hart will be re-evaluated after the All-Star break, the release adds. Hart didn’t play in blowout losses against Indiana and Philadelphia and only lasted eight scoreless minutes against Boston.
  • Lonzo Ball isn’t considered a defensive specialist but the Lakers have missed him at that end of the court, Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times notes. The Lakers’ defensive rating is the third-worst in the league in the nine games since Ball was sidelined by a severe ankle sprain. “He allows us to switch a lot,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “If they want to run any pick and roll minus the center, the 1-5 pick and roll, we can just switch it. And we feel confident Lonzo can guard most of the other players there. We have Lonzo picking up full-court the other team’s points guard. He’s great at instincts, getting deflections.”
  • Trading young center Ivica Zubac to the Clippers to ‘rent’ power forward Mike Muscala doesn’t make much sense, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report argues. Zubac could have been an inexpensive, long-term contributor for the Lakers, Pincus continues. He would have been a restricted free agent with a modest cap hold of $1.9 million. Muscala’s cap hold is $9.5MM and he might not be any more productive than Zubac would have been the rest of this season.
  • LeBron James claims the reason he drafted Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis for his All-Star team had nothing to do with recruiting, according to another Ganguli story. “That’s all part of the speculation that continues to drive our sport,” he said. “It’s all good and well and dandy, but for me I picked according to my draft board and I picked according to who was the best available.”

Lakers Trade Zubac, Beasley To Clippers For Muscala

8:07pm: The Clippers have officially announced their trade with the Lakers, issuing a press release to confirm the move. While there’s no indication yet that Beasley has been released, the statement from president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank makes it clear that Zubac is the prize of the deal.

“For two-plus seasons, we have seen Ivica up-close and watched him develop into a skilled center,” Frank said. “For his age, Ivica has proven to be an energetic rim protector who can score around the basket. We are eager for him to join our group of promising young players.”

1:39pm: The Clippers have agreed to trade power forward Mike Muscala to the Lakers for young center Ivica Zubac and journeyman forward Michael Beasley, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The deal will open a roster spot the Lakers, affording them the opportunity to sign a player on the buyout market, with Carmelo Anthony among the players they’ll consider, Wojnarowski adds (Twitter links here).

The Lakers will “seriously look” at Anthony, the Los Angeles Times’ Brad Turner tweets. The Bulls waived Anthony on February 1st after acquiring him from the Rockets last month. Anthony has often been linked to the Lakers since things went sour quickly with the Rockets this season. He’s close friends with LeBron James, who recently stated his desire to play with the longtime All-Star forward.

“I’ve always wanted to play along Melo and if the opportunity presents itself, it would be great,” James said.

Muscala was just acquired by the Clippers in the blockbuster deal with Philadelphia that sent Tobias Harris to the Sixers. He gives the Lakers a big man who can shoot from deep. Muscala, who was averaging 7.4 PPG, is a career 36.5% shooter from distance.

The Clippers’ initial plan is to waive Beasley, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets. Zubac gives them a young big man to grow in their system. He was averaging 8.5 PPG and 4.9 RPG in limited playing time this season. The Clippers would have to extend him a $1.93MM qualifying offer this summer to make him a restricted free agent.

Clippers Trade Tobias Harris To Sixers

12:02pm: The Sixers and Clippers have both issued press releases officially announcing the trade.

“We are in the unique position to contend now and we think this trade positions us well for the postseason,” Sixers GM Elton Brand said in a statement. “Tobias is one of the best three-point shooters in the NBA and possesses an innate ability to impact the game on both ends of the floor, while Boban and Mike provide valuable skillsets, size and depth to our team. All three players bring high character to our locker room and we are excited about their fit alongside Joel, Ben, Jimmy and our entire roster.”

7:10am: The Sixers and Clippers have agreed on a six-player deal that will send Tobias Harris to Philadelphia, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN writes. In exchange, Los Angeles will bring back rookie Landry Shamet, two first-round picks and a number of other resources. Shams Charania of The Athletic first reported (via Twitter) that the two sides had reached a deal.

In total, Philadelphia will acquire Harris, Boban Marjanovic, and Mike Scott while Los Angeles adds Shamet, Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala, Philadelphia’s own 2020 first-rounder, Miami’s unprotected 2021 first-rounder, and a pair of future second-rounders. The two second-round picks will be the Pistons’ 2021 and 2023 selections, per Rich Hofmann of The Athletic (Twitter link).

As for the Sixers’ 2020 first-round pick, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reports (via Twitter) that it will be lottery protected for three seasons, and would turn into a pair of second-round picks for 2023 and 2024 if it hasn’t conveyed after those three years.

It’s a massive swing by the 76ers, who appear to be going all-in on their current group after years of rebuilding. In Harris, they acquire a 26-year-old forward who is having the best year of his career. In 55 games for the Clippers, he averaged 20.9 PPG and 7.9 RPG with a shooting line of .496/.434/.877. All of those numbers are career highs.

Harris will join a starting lineup that already features Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler, Ben Simmons, and J.J. Redick, giving the Sixers arguably the most talented starting five in the East. Meanwhile, Scott and Marjanovic will help replace some of the frontcourt depth Philadelphia has sacrificed by trading Chandler, Muscala, Dario Saric, and Robert Covington this season.

Harris is on an expiring contract and will become an unrestricted free agent this summer, but the Sixers intend to be “aggressive” in re-signing him to a new deal, sources tell Wojnarowski. The plan in Philadelphia is to secure the team’s Big 4 of Embiid, Butler, Simmons, and Harris long-term, regardless of luxury tax concerns, according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe (Twitter link).

Of course, as Lowe observes in a follow-up tweet, having both Butler’s and Harris’ Bird Rights in free agency this offseason will give the Sixers some leverage negotiating with each player. If the franchise ultimately does re-sign both players and gives Simmons a maximum-salary extension, the Big 4 would likely cost approximately $120MM by the 2020/21 season, Bobby Marks of ESPN observes.

As for the Clippers’ side of the deal, while Harris had been great for the team since coming over in last year’s Blake Griffin blockbuster, he isn’t at the top of the organization’s wish list for 2019 free agency. As such, the club was comfortable giving up his Bird Rights in exchange for long-term assets.

By acquiring Shamet and two more first-round picks, including an unprotected 2021 Heat selection that could end up being pretty valuable, the Clippers have added more strong trade assets that could be used in pursuit of a star down the road.

Although the Clippers were one of the clubs on Anthony Davis‘ reported four-team wish list, L.A.’s front office didn’t make this trade with the primary objective to go after Davis, league sources tell Wojnarowski. Still, if the Clips pursue a player like AD or another star this week or in the offseason, their new assets will probably be more intriguing to a rebuilding team than Harris would have been.

Harris ($14.8MM), Marjanovic ($7MM), and Scott ($4.32MM) are all on expiring contracts, as are Chandler ($12.8MM) and Muscala ($5MM). However, the Clippers will actually add a little money to their books for 2019/20 by taking on Shamet, who is on his rookie contract and will earn just under $2MM in 2019/20.

Even after that modest addition to their cap, the Clippers will be in a good position to create the space necessary for at least one maximum-salary player in July. According to Marks, the Clippers should have about $37MM in room, and could increase that number to $49MM by waiving Avery Bradley. If they could find a taker for Danilo Gallinari, that figure would further increase to $70.7MM, which should be enough for two max slots.

The ramifications of this blockbuster deal on both conferences could be significant. In the West, the Clippers currently hold the No. 8 seed at 30-25, but the Kings and Lakers remain in hot pursuit of a playoff spot. Without Harris, the Clips’ playoff chances will dip, which in turn will reduce their odds of hanging onto their 2019 first-round pick — that selection is owed to the Celtics, but is lottery protected.

Meanwhile, in the Eastern Conference, there’s a clear group of four teams at the top of the postseason race, with the Sixers joining the Bucks, Raptors, and Celtics. It will be interesting to see whether any of those other contenders respond with moves of their own before Thursday’s deadline.

In his analysis of the trade, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps notes that Milwaukee may have already made its most significant move, acquiring George Hill earlier in the season, and Boston may save its assets for an offseason run at Davis. That leaves the Raptors as the most intriguing wild card over the next couple days. Toronto has been aggressive on several fronts, tweets Chris Mannix of SI.com.

Finally, one more cap-related note on this swap: The Clippers have multiple options for how to structure the deal, but one approach would see them create a $9.8MM traded player exception. Philadelphia won’t be able to generate a new TPE in the trade.

Austin Kent contributed to this story.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Atlantic Notes: Kurucs, Celtics, Bolden, Ntilikina

As the Nets have played well in recent weeks, one of the bright spots has been the play and development of Rodions Kurucs, the 20-year-old rookie selected in the second round of the 2018 draft. As Greg Joyce writes for The New York Post, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson believes that there is more to come for Kurucs.

Kurucs is coming off a career-high 24 points against the Pacers, a game in which he often spent his time on the floor guarding Victor Oladipo. As Joyce points out, Atkinson thinks that his recent play isn’t a flash in the pan situation, as he has been impressed with the rookie’s awareness on the floor.

Kurucs received his opportunity to start when Allen Crabbe went down with an injury, but with the way Kurucs is playing, it will be tough for the Nets, winners of eight of the past nine games, to take Kurucs out of the starting lineup.

There’s more from the Atlantic division:

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Atlantic Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we turn our attention to the Atlantic Division:

Terry Rozier, Celtics, 24, PG (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $8.8MM deal in 2015
Rozier showed he could be effective starter filling in for Kyrie Irving during the playoffs. With Irving back in the lineup, Rozier has been forced into a second-unit role again. He has expressed a desire to be a starter in the future and that’s not going to happen if Irving re-signs with Boston. Rozier’s stats aren’t that far off from last regular season but it’s been difficult for the restricted free agent, who is currently ranked No. 18 in our Free Agent Power Rankings, to enhance his value while playing 22 MPG.

DeMarre Carroll, Nets, 32, SF (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $58MM deal in 2015
Carroll’s offensive numbers have been unsightly since he returned from an injury in early November. He’s shooting 34.4% from the field and 30.8% from long range. He’s also been a defensive liability, according to Basketball Reference, which gives him a minus 1.6 Defensive Box Plus/Minus rating. Carroll cashed in at an opportune time the last time he was a free agent. He’s going to find the offers much more modest next summer, given his age and declining production.

Emmanuel Mudiay, Knicks, 22, PG (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $14MM deal in 2015
The way first-year head coach David Fizdale has been tinkering with his lineup and rotation, it’s hard for anyone on the roster to feel comfortable. The point guard situation has remained a muddle, with Mudiay, Frank Ntilikina and Trey Burke taking turns as the main guy and sitting in the doghouse. Mudiay had a 28-point performance against Milwaukee earlier this month but the Knicks have been outscored by 46 points over the last three games with the restricted free agent on the court. His grasp on a starting spot seems tenuous at best.

Mike Muscala, Sixers, 27, PF (Up) — Signed to a two-year, $10MM deal in 2017
Muscala has reinvented himself as a stretch four and he’s become a valued member of Philadelphia’s rotation. He’s averaging 10.7 PPG, 6.7 RPG and 2.2 APG over the past six games. He had an 18-point outing to help the Sixers erase a 15-point deficit in Detroit last week. If Muscala can keep this up for one of the Eastern Conference’s top teams, he’ll be in line for a nice payday next summer and might even find a suitor that views him as a starter.

Danny Green, Raptors, 31, SG (Up)– Signed to a four-year, $40MM deal in 2015
Kawhi Leonard isn’t the only former Spur making a major impact north of the border. Green seems rejuvenated as well. His shooting numbers declined during his last three seasons in San Antonio but with Toronto he’s posting his best averages since the 2012/13 season. He’s shooting 44.2% overall and 42.1% from deep. His defensive metrics have remained well above average. Green should be able to score one more multi-year contract, whether he re-signs with Toronto and gets a starting job elsewhere.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Updates: Powell, Butler, Muscala, White

It sounds like Raptors swingman Norman Powell will be sidelined for an extended period, as Blake Murphy of The Athletic tweets. Powell, who suffered a subluxation (partial dislocation) of his left shoulder in Monday’s win over Utah, currently has his arm in a sling and will undergo further tests once the team is back in Toronto.

In an official press release issued this afternoon, the Raptors didn’t offer a timeline for Powell’s recovery, announcing that he’ll be out indefinitely. However, head coach Nick Nurse told reporters today that the 25-year-old will likely be on the shelf for “weeks,” with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski suggesting (via Twitter) that it could be four to six weeks.

Here are a few of the more noteworthy injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Jimmy Butler, the subject of ongoing trade rumors and speculation, “should be a go” for the Timberwolves tonight against the Lakers, head coach Tom Thibodeau said today (Twitter link via ESPN’s Brian Windhorst). Butler has missed two of Minnesota’s last four games due to “general soreness” and “precautionary rest.”
  • The Sixers continue to have trouble getting all their new rotation players healthy at the same time. Wilson Chandler is back in action now, but Mike Muscala will miss at least the next week after breaking his nose in a practice on Tuesday, per the team (link via Chris Mannix of SI.com).
  • A trio of injured players are just about ready to make their 2018/19 debuts. Spurs point guard Derrick White will be available to play tonight (Twitter link via Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News), as will Kings wing Bogdan Bogdanovic (Twitter link via James Ham of NBC Sports California). Meanwhile, Nets forward DeMarre Carroll may play as soon as Friday in Denver (link via Brian Lewis of The New York Post).

Sixers Notes: Morey, Offseason Changes, Fultz

When a July report indicated that the Sixers tried and failed to lure Daryl Morey away from Houston, it appeared that those discussions didn’t go far — Philadelphia reportedly received permission from the Rockets to talk to Morey, but the veteran executive decided to remain in his current job.

According to Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com, however, Morey didn’t turn down the Sixers’ advances out of hand. One source close to the process tells Arnovitz that discussions got “pretty far down the road” before Morey elected to stay in Houston.

As the 76ers’ search for a new head of basketball operations continued following their failed bid for Morey, a consensus begin to build that it was important to maintain continuity in the front office, per Arnovitz. That’s one reason why Elton Brand was the eventual choice for the general manager job.

“When you live with these guys over three months, from draft and free agency, you appreciate what we already had,” head coach Brett Brown said, per Arnovitz. “Elton was always going to be a general manager at some point, in some city. And it might as well be here, and it might as well be now.”

According to Arnovitz, multiple league insiders viewed the decision to promote Brand and give him the title of GM (rather than president of basketball operations) as a “statement of control” by Sixers ownership — if they get cold feet on Brand down the road, they could always bring in a veteran executive above him. For now though, he’s running the show in Philadelphia.

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • Arnovitz’s feature on the Sixers, which is worth checking out in full, also includes details on how Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are shaping the franchise’s culture and identity, and the lessons Embiid was taught by Tim Duncan during his rookie year in 2014/15.
  • Replacing Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli on the second unit will be one of Brown’s biggest challenges this season, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. In 23 games after that duo was acquired in February, the second unit averaged 41.6 PPG and improved its three-point percentage from 32.2% to 35.2%. Mike Muscala and Wilson Chandler, acquired in trades this summer, are projected to replace them in the rotation but both are batting injuries, Murphy adds.
  • Late first-rounder Landry Shamet had a productive preseason and that opens up more options for the second unit, Sarah Todd of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes. Shamet, a 6’5” point guard, had a pair of double-digit games while mostly working alongside J.J. Redick. “I think it went about as well as it could have,” Shamet told Todd. “I didn’t surprise myself, that’s kind of the way I look at it.”
  • Markelle Fultz will start the season opener and Redick will come off the bench, Jon Johnson of KYW 1060 Philadelphia tweets. The 2017 top overall pick will be starting for the first time. Fultz only appeared in 14 regular season and three postseason games as a rookie. Redick, who averaged a career-best 17.1 PPG last season, hasn’t come off the bench in a regular season game since the 2013/14 season.

(Dana Gauruder contributed to this post.)

Sixers Notes: Chandler, Muscala, Covington, Fultz

It appears Wilson Chandler‘s hamstring injury will linger at least a couple of weeks into the regular season, coach Brett Brown says in a video tweeted by Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Chandler, who was acquired in an offseason trade with the Nuggets, has been sidelined since straining his left hamstring September 28 in an exhibition game against Melbourne United.

“My experience with hamstrings is one that reminds you that it rarely is less than a month,” Brown said. “And it’s not like he’s 20 years old. … We don’t need to rush him back into doing anything, and when his body says he’s ready to play, that’s when he’ll play.”

Brown added that no timeline has been set for Chandler to return, but repeated that it should be about a month from the original injury. The Sixers open their season Tuesday against the Celtics.

There’s more news out of Philadelphia:

  • The Sixers ran into another social media issue today that gave new GM Elton Brand his first public relations test since taking the job, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. The father of Mike Muscala allegedly posted inflammatory comments about Jimmy Butler on his Twitter account, which drew immediate condemnation from Brand. Muscala apologized for the incident and Brand absolved him of any blame. “Having known Mike since his rookie year in 2013-14 when we were teammates, I am also certain these posts are in no way reflective of his own personal beliefs,” Brand said. “Mike has always been a great teammate and ambassador for the game of basketball, and he has never shied away from using his platform to do good in the community. He has our organization’s full support.”
  • Robert Covington endured extreme roster turnover and some of the worst losing in history during his first two seasons in Philadelphia, but he has become the team’s longest-tenured player and an example to his younger teammates. In an interview with Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype, Covington talks about how those early years molded him. “Coach Brown looks at me as one of the leaders, if not the leader, of this team because of everything I’ve faced and just how I’ve handled everything,” Covington said. “He looks at me as one of the strongest people on this team.”
  • Brown plans to stick with his preseason strategy of starting Markelle Fultz at shooting guard in the first half and J.J. Redick in the second half, relays Tom Moore of The Bucks County Courier Times. Both players say they’re on board with the unconventional arrangement.

Anthony To Hawks, Schroder To Thunder In Three-Team Trade

JULY 25: The three-team trade involving the Thunder, Hawks, and Sixers is now official, according to a series of press releases. The deal took several days to finalize because the clubs had to complete a few other roster moves first, including Philadelphia signing Jonah Bolden earlier today.

Upon being released by the Hawks, Anthony intends to sign with the Rockets.

JULY 19: The Thunder and Hawks have agreed to a trade that will send Carmelo Anthony and a protected 2022 first-round pick to Atlanta, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). According to Wojnarowski, Oklahoma City will receive Dennis Schroder in the deal. Royce Young of ESPN adds (via Twitter) that the 2022 first-rounder will have 1-14 protection, and will turn into two second-rounders if it doesn’t convey in ’22.

The Sixers will also be involved in the trade, according to Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who tweets that Philadelphia will acquire Mike Muscala from Atlanta and will send Justin Anderson to the Hawks. The 76ers will also deal Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot to Oklahoma City, Vivlamore adds (via Twitter).

Upon acquiring him, the Hawks will waive Anthony, Wojnarowski adds. That will free up the veteran forward to join whatever a new team when he clears waivers, and the Rockets remain the strong frontrunners to land him.

We heard rumblings earlier this week about discussions between the Hawks and Thunder involving Anthony, Schroder, and Muscala, so it seems those two teams were able to find common ground, with the Sixers entering the mix as well. Here’s how the deal looks for each of the three teams involved:

Oklahoma City Thunder:

It has been nearly two weeks since word broke that the Thunder intended to part ways with Anthony, but the team resisted waiving him outright. Doing so would have reduced his $27.93MM cap charge to just $9.31MM, significantly reducing the club’s luxury-tax bill for 2018/19, but it would have added dead-money cap hits worth $9.31MM for the next two years as well.

By trading Anthony and a future protected pick and taking back Schroder and Luwawu-Cabarrot, the Thunder will reduce their 2018/19 team salary and projected tax bill substantially while also adding a productive point guard in Schroder. The 24-year-old, who averaged 19.4 PPG and 6.2 APG last season, figures to assume a role similar to the one Reggie Jackson previously had in Oklahoma City.

According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), Thunder GM Sam Presti and coach Billy Donovan were granted permission to speak to Schroder before the deal was agreed upon, and both Presti and Donovan are “enthusiastic” about the fit. Oklahoma City had been seeking more speed and another ball-handler, Woj notes.

Still, there’s a reason Schroder was available. There are on-court questions about his shooting and defense, and off-court concerns about his character and his legal issues. Schroder was arrested on a misdemeanor battery charge last September, with Georgia officials recommending in March that he be prosecuted for felony aggravated battery. He’ll face discipline from his team and/or the league when that case is resolved, but the Thunder appear to be banking him avoiding a more serious sentence.

As for the specific tax figures, by my count, the Thunder will now have a team salary of about $148.74MM with a projected tax bill just over $88.75MM. Prior to the deal, those numbers sat at about $160.97MM and $157.75MM, respectively. While Oklahoma City’s tax outlook for 2018/19 has improved, the Thunder will have to be wary about increased penalties in future seasons after adding Schroder’s $15.5MM annual salary through 2020/21. They’ll likely deal with that when the time comes though.

It’s worth noting that a lengthy suspension without pay for Schroder could further reduce the Thunder’s team salary and tax hit in 2018/19. A suspension would also reduce the likelihood of the point guard earning the $2MM in unlikely incentives included in his contract, though not all of those bonuses are tied to individual performance, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes.

Finally, the Thunder will create a traded player exception worth $10,883,189 in the deal. They’ll have a year to use it.

Atlanta Hawks:

The Hawks had been determined to move Schroder for much of the offseason, and drafting Trae Young and acquiring Jeremy Lin made Atlanta’s former starting point guard even more expendable. Despite his solid production, Schroder had a slew of on- and off-court question marks, as detailed above, and he was drafted and extended by Atlanta’s previous front office — general manager Travis Schlenk never seemed particularly attached to him.

By moving Schroder ($15.5MM) and Muscala ($5MM) for Anthony ($27.93MM) and Anderson ($2.52MM), the Hawks take advantage of their remaining cap room — they’re able to take back significantly more salary than they sent out as a result of that space.

Atlanta won’t get any real immediate help out of the deal, but the club will create future cap flexibility by clearing Schroder’s three remaining years from its books — both Anthony and Anderson are on expiring deals, and Carmelo will be waived shortly. According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), he’ll get his full $27.93MM salary from the Hawks. That was certainly agreed upon prior to the completion of the deal, since Anthony had a no-trade clause and could’ve vetoed the move if he thought Atlanta would ask him to give back money in a buyout.

The Hawks will also acquire a 2022 first-round pick, which they’ll receive as long as Oklahoma City is a playoff team in ’22 — otherwise, it will become two second-rounders. The Stepien rule, which prevents teams from trading consecutive future first-rounders, meant that the Thunder would have had a hard time dealing an earlier first-round pick, since they’d already sent their top-20 protected 2020 first-rounder to Orlando.

Philadelphia 76ers:

While the Sixers’ involvement in this deal may seem extraneous, it’s a nice bit of business for Philadelphia. In Muscala, the team will acquire a big man capable of knocking down outside shots — he’s a career 37.8% three-point shooter and made a career-best 1.2 threes per game in 2017/18.

The Sixers thought they’d acquired a player who fit that role earlier in the offseason when they reached an agreement to sign Nemanja Bjelica, but Bjelica backed out of his deal with the team, leaving Philadelphia seeking a replacement. Muscala is a solid fallback plan, and is on an expiring contract, meaning he won’t compromise the team’s future cap flexibility.

In order to acquire Muscala, the Sixers only had to surrender Anderson and Luwawu-Cabarrot, a pair of players who seemed unlikely to have regular rotation roles for the team in 2018/19. The move will also help the 76ers clear out a roster logjam, as the team had 16 players under contract and was still believed to be considering bringing over draft-and-stash prospect Jonah Bolden. Following the deal, the Sixers are back down to 15 players on NBA contracts, not including Bolden or 2018 second-rounder Shake Milton.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Hawks, Thunder Have Discussed Carmelo Anthony

The Thunder and Hawks have engaged in discussions on a potential trade involving Carmelo Anthony, reports NBA columnist Mitch Lawrence (Twitter link). According to Lawrence, the Thunder are looking at Dennis Schroder and Mike Muscala, and if the two sides can make a deal, Atlanta would buy out Anthony’s expiring contract.

Per Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Hawks and Thunder spoke in Las Vegas about a possible trade involving Anthony, but those talks didn’t get serious. Still, Vivlamore acknowledges that things could change now that Atlanta has acquired another point guard in Jeremy Lin.

The Hawks have been exploring possible trades involving Schroder for much of the offseason, and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported last week that their acquisition of Lin may expedite the process of moving Schroder. While the 24-year-old has been a productive player on the court, concerns related to his legal troubles and locker-room fit have limited his appeal to both the Hawks and to potential suitors. Lawrence indicates that trading Schroder is Atlanta’s “No. 1 priority.”

Schroder was arrested on a misdemeanor battery charge last September, with Georgia officials recommending in March that he be prosecuted for felony aggravated battery. He figures to face discipline from his team and/or the league when that case is resolved. Jail time also isn’t entirely out of the question, though Hawks officials are reportedly confident that will be avoided.

Meanwhile, the Thunder continue to explore ways to part ways with Anthony without simply having to waive him. Cutting Anthony outright and stretching his salary over the next three years would result in cap hits of $9.3MM+ annually through 2020/21. Oklahoma City would like to find a way to reduce its projected tax bill by cutting costs in an Anthony trade, though it’s unclear if the team is willing to add an asset – such as a future first-round pick – to make that happen. That may be a sticking point for the Hawks, per Lawrence and Vivlamore.

We outlined in detail last week how an Anthony trade could work for a team that has available cap room, but not necessarily enough to accommodate his full $27.93MM salary. The Hawks meet that criteria. They can create about $10MM in cap space, so they wouldn’t have to match salaries if they were to trade for Anthony — Schroder ($15.5MM) and Muscala ($5MM) would be enough.