Thunder Rumors

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.

Exploring Whether Thunder Can Make Play-In Tournament Push

And-Ones: Crawford, Micic, Dragic

Retired shooting guard Jamal Crawford reflected on his 20-year NBA run in a conversation with Bryan Kalbrosky of USA Today. Earlier this summer, the 6’5″ vet, a three-time Sixth Man of the Year, showed off his still-lethal handle at his yearly Seattle-based Pro-Am league the CrawsOver.

“I would always stretch and ice even if nothing was hurting,” Crawford, now 42, said of one of the keys to his longevity in the league. “I heard an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of recovery. I was always taking care of myself… I was always trying to think about the long game so I could play at a high level for a long time… I would’ve played even longer if I knew the stuff I know now.”

Across 1,327 career games played with the Bulls, Knicks, Warriors, Hawks, Trail Blazers, Clippers, Timberwolves, Suns and Nets, Crawford averaged 14.6 PPG, 3.4 APG and 2.2 RPG, while posting shooting splits of .410/.348/.862.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball globe:

  • After flirting with a move to the NBA this summer, star EuroLeague guard Vasilije Micic opted to remain with Anadolu Efes in Turkey. The Thunder continue to possess the draft rights to the two-time reigning EuroLeague Final Four MVP, who spoke to Rada Nikolić August of Sport Klub about his offseason decision . “I felt a slight mistrust from the direction of the strongest league in the world, which they have towards many, not only me,” Micic said, though he seemed open to keeping the door open to an eventual move stateside. “I really don’t think I’m going there to prove what and how much I can do. It’s nice like this for me, so if I go to America one day, it will happen…” Last year, the 28-year-old averaged 18.1 PPG, 4.7 APG, 2.3 RPG, and 1.1 SPG across 28 contests with Anadolu Efes in EuroLeague play.
  • New Bulls reserve point guard Goran Dragic is set to return to competition for his native Slovenia in EuroBasket 2022 this September, as he announced via Twitter. “I’M BACK,” the 36-year-old posted, along with a variety of descriptive emojis. Dragic had previously retired from playing for Slovenia in 2017, after helping the national club win its first-ever FIBA European championship in EuroBasket play. Dragic won the EuroBasket MVP award for his efforts, averaging 22.6 PPG in nine games. Dragic joined Chicago this summer following turns with the Raptors and Nets in 2021/22.

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.

International Notes: Jokic, Antetokounmpo, Yurtseven, Pokusevski, Jovic

Nuggets star Nikola Jokic is looking forward to representing Serbia on the basketball court for the first time in three years, writes Johnny Askounis of EuroHoops. The two-time MVP will join the national team for a pair of 2023 FIBA World Cup qualifying games, hosting Greece August 25 and traveling to Turkey August 28.

“I feel great, similar to every time I reunite with these guys. I just met some of them,” Jokic said in advance of the Serbian team’s training camp. “We are preparing, we just started and we will see how far we can go. Up first are the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers and the goal of helping Serbia qualify to the World Cup.”

Jokic also plans to participate in EuroBasket next month, and he could return for both the 2023 World Cup and the 2024 Olympics if Serbia qualifies. Jokic cited a special pride in being able to play for his home nation.

“It means a lot, I talked with my family, it’s a totally different feeling when you play for the national team,” Jokic said. “I felt different when I came here than when I go to Denver.”

There’s more international news to pass along:

  • Another MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and his brother and Bucks teammate, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, are in Athens waiting to join the Greek team for training camp, per Aris Barkas of EuroHoops. An agreement limits NBA players to 28 days of preparation before major FIBA tournaments and 14 days before the Olympics. The other Antetokounmpo brothers, Alex and Kostas, are already training with Greece. New Mavericks signee Tyler Dorsey is under the same restrictions as Giannis and Thanasis and can’t start training until Thursday.
  • Heat center Omer Yurtseven elected not to join the Turkish national team’s training camp in Italy, but he didn’t inform team officials of his decision or seek permission in advance, according to a EuroHoops report. The decision was made by Yurtseven rather than the Heat, the story adds, as the rookie center chose to stay in Miami and focus on preparing for training camp. The report notes that Yurtseven was suspended for eight games in 2018 for skipping national team activities without providing notice.
  • Thunder forward Aleksej Pokusevski and Heat rookie Nikola Jovic were denied permission by their respective teams to join Serbia for EuroBasket and the World Cup qualifiers, Askounis states in a separate story. Hawks forward Bogdan Bogdanovic is also unavailable because he’s recovering from knee surgery.

Thunder Notes: Arena, Maledon, Bigs, Micic

  • Unlike the Sixers, who recently announced their plans for a privately funded arena development project, the Thunder will likely be seeking public funds when they begin formally working on a new arena of their own, writes Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman (subscription required). As Carlson writes, the franchise can use the threat of relocation as leverage to seek money from the city, whereas that approach wouldn’t work in Philadelphia. Carlson estimates that we’re probably still eight to 10 years away from the Paycom Center being replaced.
  • In his latest mailbag for The Oklahoman, Joe Mussatto discusses Theo Maledon‘s tenuous future with the Thunder, whether Darius Bazley or Derrick Favors will still be on the team by season’s end, and Vasilije Micic‘s trade value. Mussatto believes Oklahoma City should be willing to trade Micic’s rights for a single second-round pick, since he gets the sense the EuroLeague star is using the threat of a move to the NBA to earn bigger contracts overseas.

And-Ones: McCormack, Luxury Tax, OKC Blue, Harrison

David McCormack has signed with Besiktas in Turkey, according to a team press release. McCormack was reportedly signing an Exhibit 10 contract with the Timberwolves but apparently chose to begin his pro career in Europe.

The undrafted big man out of Kansas was a prominent member of the Jayhawks’ national championship team. He spent all four of his college seasons at Kansas, starting 96 of 132 total games. In 2021/22, he averaged 10.6 PPG and 7.0 RPG in 40 contests (21.9 MPG).

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • A total of 10 teams are currently projected to collectively spend $650MM in luxury tax payments next season, according to Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype. That would an NBA record for tax penalties. The Warriors, Nets, Clippers, Bucks, Lakers, Sixers, Celtics, Suns, Nuggets and Mavericks all project as taxpayer teams for the time being.
  • The G League’s Oklahoma City Blue will continue to play the Thunder’s Paycom Center next season, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman reports. The Blue also played there last season, having been the only G League team to host their games in an NBA arena. They often had to play late morning or early afternoon games with the Thunder playing there on the same night.
  • Former NBA swingman Andrew Harrison has signed with Yukatel Merkezefendi Belediyesi in Turkey, as JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors relays (Twitter link). Harrison has suited up with the Grizzlies, Cavaliers and Pelicans during his NBA career. In his last NBA season, he played a combined 16 games with Cleveland and New Orleans in 2018/19.

Gabe Brown Signing Exhibit 10 Deal With Nuggets

Undrafted free agent rookie Gabe Brown is signing an Exhibit 10 contract to go to training camp with the Nuggets, according to Adam Zagoria of (Twitter link).

Brown, who declared for the draft this spring after spending four years at Michigan State, became a full-time starter for the Spartans as a senior in 2021/22, averaging 11.6 PPG and 3.8 RPG with a .382 3PT% in 36 games (28.9 MPG). His performance earned him a spot on the All-Big 10 Third Team.

Brown suited up for the Thunder‘s Summer League team this month, recording 11.0 PPG and 3.5 RPG on .421/.370/1.000 shooting in four Las Vegas contests (21.8 MPG).

Zagoria reported last month that Brown would be signing a “partially guaranteed” contract with Oklahoma City and Jake Weingarten of later said it would be an Exhibit 10 deal, but based on Zagoria’s newest report, it seems as if that deal fell through.

An Exhibit 10 is a one-year, non-guaranteed minimum-salary contract that counts toward a team’s 20-man offseason roster limit, but doesn’t count against the cap unless the player makes the regular season roster. It can be converted into a two-way contract or can make a player eligible for a bonus worth up to $50K if he’s waived and joins his team’s G League affiliate.

Denver doesn’t currently have a two-way slot available, so the team may envision Brown as an affiliate player for the Grand Rapids Gold.

And-Ones: Offseason Questions, Maker, Offseason Grades

Kevin Pelton, Nick Friedell, Kendra Andrews, Ohm Youngmisuk and Jamal Collier of ESPN all expect Kevin Durant to be on the Nets’ roster to start next season, but four of the five think Donovan Mitchell will begin the 2022/23 season with the Knicks.

The ESPN colleagues, who discussed a handful of lingering offseason questions, unanimously agreed that Carmelo Anthony will be on an NBA roster at some point next season, though it might not be by training camp.

Pelton believes that the Warriors signing free agent Donte DiVincenzo to a two-year, $9.3MM deal with a player option might be the “steal of the summer” if the 25-year-old is healthy and regains his prior form. DiVincenzo struggled a bit last season after a major ankle injury required surgery during the 2021 playoffs, but he could be a bounce-back candidate for the defending champions.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Thon Maker has signed with China’s Fujian Sturgeons, according to Sportando. Maker appeared in 263 NBA games from 2016-21 with the Bucks, Pistons and Cavaliers, holding career averages of 4.6 PPG and 2.8 RPG in 13.8 MPG. He spent last season with Israeli club Hapoel Jerusalem, but only appeared in six games.
  • The Athletic’s staff handed out grades to all 30 NBA teams for their offseason work so far. The Nets, Hornets, Lakers, Knicks and Jazz all received an “incomplete” for various reasons, mostly roster uncertainty. Only one team, the Heat, received a grade below a B-minus, with John Hollinger giving them a “C” for losing P.J. Tucker and not finding a suitable replacement at power forward. The two teams with the highest grades? The Nuggets and Thunder, who both received an “A” for their offseason work. The Nuggets gave back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic a super-max extension, traded for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and signed Bruce Brown in free agency, a couple of two-way wings who should complement Jokic’s game nicely, per Dave DuFour. As for the Thunder, Andrew Schlecht says the primary reason they deserve an “A” is for drafting Chet Holmgren with the No. 2 overall pick last month.

Thunder Hiring Sixers Executive

  • Longtime Sixers executive Vince Rozman will join the Thunder as vice president of identification and intelligence, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.