Mike Muscala

Contract Details: Lawson, K. Brown, Forrest, Barlow, Bouyea, More

The Mavericks used a portion of their non-taxpayer mid-level exception to give A.J. Lawson a $1MM rest-of-season salary and a four-year contract when they promoted him to their standard roster, Hoops Rumors has learned.

While Lawson’s 2023/24 salary of $1MM – which is well above his prorated minimum – is guaranteed, he’s not necessarily assured of any money beyond this season. His minimum salaries for the following three years are fully non-guaranteed. If he plays out the full contract, the Mavericks wing would earn approximately $7.91MM.

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

  • The three-year contract that Kendall Brown signed with the Pacers features a starting salary of $1.1MM, which came out of the team’s room exception. This season is the first year that the room exception can be used to sign players for up to three years instead of just two, and Indiana took advantage of that flexibility to give Brown non-guaranteed minimum salaries in 2024/25 and ’25/26, with a team option on that final year. He’ll receive a partial guarantee of $250K if he makes the Pacers’ regular season roster in the fall.
  • The new contracts for Hawks guard Trent Forrest and Spurs forward Dominick Barlow are just rest-of-season, minimum-salary deals, which suggests that those two players just got standard conversions from their two-way contracts rather than negotiating new terms. Forrest will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, while Barlow will be eligible for restricted free agency.
  • As expected, both Shake Milton (Knicks) and Mike Muscala (Thunder) signed rest-of-season, minimum-salary contracts with their new clubs.
  • Like fellow San Antonio newcomer RaiQuan Gray, Jamaree Bouyea signed a two-year, two-way deal with the Spurs, so his new contract runs through the 2024/25 season.
  • The two-way deals recently signed by Jeff Dowtin (Sixers), Jacob Gilyard (Nets), Jacob Toppin (Knicks), Ish Wainright (Suns), Quenton Jackson (Pacers), Harry Giles (Lakers), and Dylan Windler (Hawks) are all one-year (rest-of-season) contracts, so those players will be eligible to become restricted free agents this summer.

Northwest Notes: Knox, J. Williams, Wolves, McDaniels

Free agent forward Kevin Knox has returned to the G League, having reported back to the Rip City Remix, according to a tweet from the Trail Blazers‘ G League affiliate.

Knox was with the Remix in the fall, but signed with the Pistons in early November and was in the NBA for three months before being sent to Utah at February’s trade deadline. The Jazz immediately waived him, and with no NBA opportunities immediately presenting themselves, the former No. 9 overall pick eventually decide to head back to the G League.

Knox racked up 26 points and 11 rebounds and was a +23 in a 15-point victory over Iowa in his return to Rip City on Friday. A few more performances like that could help earn him another shot at the NBA level. For what it’s worth, since he was waived before March 1, he’ll be playoff-eligible if he signs a rest-of-season contract with an NBA club.

Here are a few more notes from around the Northwest:

  • Thunder center Jaylin Williams has been diagnosed with a sprained left knee, head coach Mark Daigneault said on Friday (Twitter link via Rylan Stiles of Locked on Thunder). There’s no word yet on the severity of the sprain, but it’s often a week-to-week injury, so one of the team’s recent frontcourt additions – Bismack Biyombo and Mike Muscala – may get an opportunity to claim a rotation role.
  • Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter links) clarifies that incoming Timberwolves owners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez have until the end of March to make their final payment to assume majority control of the franchise. Sources close to the Lore/Rodriguez group say they remain on track to make that payment, per Krawczynski. Current majority owner Glen Taylor said in a recent conversation with Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News that he was told Lore and Rodriguez planned to close the sale at the end of February, which didn’t happen. However, it doesn’t sound like the new ownership group has missed any deadlines.
  • Chris Hine of The Star Tribune explores Jaden McDaniels‘ importance to the Timberwolves and notes that the club will need an “even-keeled” version of the young forward in order to reach its ceiling. McDaniels memorably broke his hand when he punched a wall on the final day of the 2022/23 regular season and missed Minnesota’s play-in loss.

Mike Muscala Signs With Thunder

MARCH 2: Muscala has officially signed with the Thunder, the team announced today in a press release.

MARCH 1: Veteran center Mike Muscala intends to sign with the Thunder for the rest of the season after he clears waivers on Friday, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Muscala was bought out and placed on waivers by the Pistons on Wednesday.

The move represents a reunion for the two sides, as Muscala played in Oklahoma City from 2019-23. He initially joined the team as a free agent in 2019, then re-signed in ’21 and again in ’22 before being sent to Boston at last season’s trade deadline.

Muscala appeared in 168 games during his initial run with the Thunder, averaging 7.0 points and 3.0 rebounds in 14.5 minutes per contest. He’s a big man who is capable of stretching the floor, having made 37.6% of his career three-point attempts, including 39.2% during his three-and-a-half seasons in OKC.

After being traded from the Celtics to the Wizards in the three-team deal that sent Kristaps Porzingis to Boston last summer, Muscala began this season in D.C. and then was on the move again in January when the Wizards dealt him to Detroit.

In 37 total games for the two lottery-bound Eastern Conference clubs prior to this week’s buyout, the 32-year-old averaged 3.8 PPG and 2.8 RPG in 13.8 MPG. Although Muscala’s three-point percentage on the season is just 31.8%, that number has been on the rise in recent weeks — he made 38.2% of his attempts from beyond the arc in 13 games with the Pistons.

The Thunder have an open spot on their 15-man roster, so they won’t need to cut anyone to make room for Muscala.

It will be the second move made in recent weeks by the team to bolster its frontcourt — Oklahoma City also added Bismack Biyombo via free agency last month. Biyombo and Muscala will provide depth and bring different skill sets to a frontcourt led by Rookie of the Year candidate Chet Holmgren.

Atlantic Notes: Hartenstein, Raptors, Springer, Muscala

Isaiah Hartenstein earned some extra money on top of his base salary on Thursday. The Knicks center surpassed 1,350 minutes this season, which triggered a $350K bonus, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets.

The bonus had been deemed likely and was included in his cap hit for 2023/24 since the Knicks big man met the same minutes benchmark in ’22/23. Hartenstein has a base salary of approximately $8.2MM, along with $1.05MM in likely bonuses.

The Knicks hold Early Bird rights on Hartenstein, who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season. New York can offer him a multiyear contract with a starting salary of up to $16MM.

We have from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Raptors can feel cautiously optimistic about their lineup, The Athletic’s Eric Koreen opines, since Immanuel Quickley, Scottie Barnes, Gary Trent Jr., RJ Barrett and Jakob Poeltl are playing well together. The only hitch is that Trent will be an unrestricted free agent, though Gradey Dick might be ready to take that spot. They could also use a defensive specialist on the wing, Koreen adds.
  • Jaden Springer didn’t anticipate getting traded at this stage of his career, he admitted to Gina Mizell of the Philadelphia Inquirer. He was dealt from the Sixers to the Celtics earlier this month. “I wasn’t expecting that,” the 2021 first rounder said. “But I [didn’t] really think about it too much. It happened, and I was OK with moving on to the next thing. I’m here [in Boston] now, and that’s what I’m really focused on.” Sixers exec Daryl Morey didn’t view Springer as a rotation player in the postseason for the next few seasons, Mizell explains, which is why he was shipped out for an asset — a 2024 second-rounder — that could potentially be flipped for a veteran role player.
  • The Celtics are eligible to sign Mike Muscala but it doesn’t seem likely, Brian Robb of Masslive.com writes. Muscala was bought out by the Pistons this week after he was acquired in a trade with Washington in mid-January. However, teams like the Knicks and Sixers would appear to be better fits, given that Muscala could get immediate playing time in their frontcourts. Boston would not be able to offer him any regular minutes while the team is healthy, and the C’s added a big man at the trade deadline in Xavier Tillman.

Pacific Notes: Wiggins, Suns, S. Lee, Fox, Huerter, Reddish

Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins will miss his second straight game on Thursday vs. New York due to personal reasons, with Anthony Slater of The Athletic describing the absence as a “family matter.” It’s unclear when Wiggins will return to the lineup, though head coach Steve Kerr said the team expects him back at some point.

Don’t know,” Kerr said of a return timeline. “We’ll obviously respect Andrew’s wishes for this to remain private. Personal reasons.”

As Slater notes, Wiggins missed the final 25 games of the 2022/23 season due to personal reasons, returning just before the postseason began.

Here are a few more notes from the Pacific Division:

  • The Suns have an open roster spot. Veterans Mike Muscala (Pistons) and Patty Mills (Hawks) were recently waived by their former clubs, with Muscala reaching a buyout agreement. Would Phoenix be interested in either of those players? John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 says the answer is no (Twitter links). The Suns are much more likely to convert Saben Lee‘s two-way contract to a standard deal, according to Gambadoro, who says (via Twitter) the odds of that happening are “very high.” It’s worth noting that Lee, who was the 38th pick of the 2020 draft, is in his fourth NBA season — he will not be eligible for two-way contracts in 2024/25 and beyond.
  • After building an early lead on Wednesday against the Nuggets, the Kings wound up being blown out in Denver without star point guard De’Aaron Fox, writes Chris Biderman of The Sacramento Bee. Fox, who sustained a left knee contusion in Monday’s loss to Miami, went through the team’s shootaround yesterday morning and his pregame shooting routine prior to being ruled out, which seemingly indicates the injury is relatively minor.
  • According to Biderman, guard Kevin Huerter was frustrated with his lack of playing time following Wednesday’s game, in which he played just 18 minutes. “I don’t know if I could put my finger on one (thing),” Huerter said of the Kings being outscored by 35 points over the second and third quarters. “I wish I was out there to help us more though.” Huerter declined to expand on those comments, but Biderman points out that the 25-year-old is playing a career-low 25.2 minutes per game and briefly lost his starting job in December before reclaiming it.
  • After missing the previous 14 games with a right ankle sprain, Lakers wing Cam Reddish returned to action in Wednesday’s win over the Clippers, per Khobi Price of The Southern Califnornia News Group. The former lottery pick played 20 minutes and supplanted second-year guard/forward Max Christie in the rotation, Price adds.

Mike Muscala Finalizes Buyout With Pistons

February 28: The buyout is now official and Muscala has been placed on waivers, the Pistons announced in a press release (Twitter link).

February 27: Veteran forward Mike Muscala is finalizing a buyout with the Pistons, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets. Muscala has some playoff contenders interested in signing him, Wojnarowski adds.

A player on an NBA contract must be waived by the end of the day on Friday in order to retain his playoff eligibility. As our Buyout Market Watch shows, Muscala will join several other veterans recently waived who are seeking to sign with a team in the postseason hunt.

Muscala, 32, had the misfortune of playing for the league’s two worst teams this season. He appeared in 24 games with the Wizards before he was dealt in mid-January to Detroit. Muscala has made 13 games appearances with the Pistons, including four starts, averaging 3.5 points and 2.2 rebounds in 13.2 minutes per night.

Muscala can play either power forward or small-ball center and his 37.6% career three-point percentage could make him a valuable bench piece for a team looking for frontcourt depth.

Muscala was on an expiring $3.5MM contract this season and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. He has $905,000 remaining on this year’s salary, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets, so he’ll presumably be giving up a portion of that figure as part of his buyout agreement.

The other forward Detroit acquired in the deal with Washington, Danilo Gallinari, was waived after the trade deadline and joined the Bucks.

Pistons Notes: Williams, Rotation, Wiseman, Grimes

The Pistons went 11 deep into their rotation through the first 13 minutes of their Thursday loss to the Pacers. According to James L. Edwards III of The Athletic, it felt like Detroit was auditioning for players who might be on next season’s roster, even though coach Monty Williams denied that was the case a day earlier.

I’m not going to be throwing combinations on the floor to just be looking at certain combinations,” Williams said Wednesday. “We’re done with that, in my opinion. We’re trying to develop guys, for sure, but we’re going to try and win every game we can so that we can create what we feel [will give us momentum] going into the summer.

In Edwards’ view, it doesn’t feel like there’s much synergy with the rotations Williams is putting on the floor. If the team is prioritizing winning, Edwards writes, it doesn’t make sense that James Wiseman is earning minutes over Mike Muscala and there’s been no staggering the minutes of franchise guards Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey. But it doesn’t feel like development is the priority in the rotation either, according to Edwards, because rookie Marcus Sasser played fewer minutes than Evan Fournier and Malachi Flynn.

The deep rotations and new faces are making it difficult for any consistency to develop in Detroit and too many minutes are being given to players who might not be on the roster next season, Edwards writes.

In response to questions surrounding his 11-man rotation on Thursday, Williams explained that he told the coaches he’d prefer to run with about nine rotation players but Sasser bumped his knee and that’s why he ended up using Flynn more (Twitter link via Omari Sankofa II of Detroit Free Press).

We have more Pistons notes:

  • Williams also explained his decision to play Wiseman over Muscala (Twitter link via Sankofa). “I like what he’s giving us, especially on the defensive side,” Williams said of the former No. 2 overall pick. According to Sankofa, Williams said that the rim protection Wiseman provides is more important when smaller guards like Sasser and Flynn are on the floor.
  • Wiseman is hoping to shed the bust label he picked up after being traded away for a modest return at the 2023 deadline after he was drafted second overall in 2020, according to FOX Sports’ Melissa Rohlin. “I believe I can be a great player,” Wiseman said. His career has been derailed by a combination of injuries, illness and a lack of NBA preparedness, Rohlin writes.
  • Quentin Grimes, acquired by the Pistons at the deadline, is listed as probable ahead of their Saturday matchup against Orlando, according to Sankofa (Twitter link). Grimes hasn’t played since being traded due to a right knee sprain, but averaged 8.6 points per game while connecting on 37.9% of his three-pointers in his first three seasons in the league.

Injury Notes: Stewart, Muscala, James, Davis, Williamson, Jones, Jokic

Pistons center Isaiah Stewart will be sidelined for 10-to-14 days with an ankle sprain, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Detroit later confirmed the news via a press release.

Stewart missed Detroit’s Wednesday matchup against the Cavaliers after suffering the injury in the Sunday victory over the Thunder. The 6’8″ big man previously missed eight games in a row with a lingering toe injury. In total, he’s been unavailable for 12 games this year and will miss more with this ankle injury.

The fourth-year center is averaging 11.0 points and 6.8 rebounds per night while shooting 47.0% from the floor and 37.4% from beyond the arc. He has started every game but one for the Pistons this season.

We have more injury notes from around the league:

  • Stewart isn’t the only member of the Pistons dealing with an injury, as forward/center Mike Muscala exited the game against the Cavs in the first quarter. According to a release from the team, Muscala suffered a concussion and is beginning a mandated return-to-participation process that must be completed before returning to basketball activities, per the league’s concussion policy. There is no timetable for his return, according to the release.
  • Lakers stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis weren’t available for Thursday’s victory over the Celtics, according to The Orange County Register’s Khobi Price. James was listed as out with left ankle peroneal tendinopathy while Davis continues to be affected by bilateral Achilles tendinopathy and left hip spasms. “Those guys [are] dealing with two active injuries that we have been pretty much managing all year that got inflamed a little bit,” coach Darvin Ham said pregame. “Wanted to let them go through shootaround, see how it was, determined ultimately that they will be out for the night.
  • Pelicans forwards Zion Williamson (left foot bone contusion) and Herbert Jones (right adductor soreness) missed New Orleans’ Wednesday matchup against the Rockets (Twitter link). Williamson and Jones went through parts of practice on Thursday but both players, alongside Larry Nance Jr., are considered questionable to play on Friday in San Antonio, per NOLA.com’s Christian Clark (Twitter links).
  • After missing Wednesday’s contest against Oklahoma City, Nuggets star Nikola Jokic is questionable for Friday’s outing versus Portland with low back pain, according to The Denver Gazette’s Vinny Benedetto (Twitter link). The injury is not expected to be a long-term issue.

Pistons Notes: Muscala, Thompson, Ivey, Cap Room

The Pistons got a strong performance from their new-look bench in Saturday’s loss to Milwaukee, writes Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. Alec Burks scored 33 points and teamed with newly acquired Mike Muscala to hit 11-of-18 shots from beyond the arc as Detroit’s reserves put up 85 points, the most of any team this season. Muscala has noticed a commitment to effort from his new teammates since being acquired in a trade last week.

“Guys play really hard here, and it’s an honor to be a part of that,” he said. “It was a good game today, we just couldn’t get it done, especially on defense. We get a chance to play them again on Monday, and obviously they’re a great team. They have a lot of weapons on offense, but I thought we battled hard today.”

Rookie forward Ausar Thompson, who started for much of the first half of the season, has also become an important part of the bench unit, and Sankofa notes that his rebounding and ability to attack the basket make him an effective complement to Muscala. Coach Monty Williams seems confident in his current bench group.

“Ausar coming off the bench and knocking down shots was huge for his confidence and huge for the development of our young group,” Williams said. “Having (Danilo) Gallinari and Mike out there, they’re seamlessly fitting in and figuring out how we play. Burks has been phenomenal. His ability to score the ball, his ability to communicate and help the young guys on the floor have helped us a ton. You don’t typically get that kind of bench production, but with the vets we have coming off the bench, it certainly helps us.”

There’s more from Detroit:

  • Jaden Ivey has excelled over the past two weeks with Cade Cunningham sidelined by a left knee strain, and he’ll continue to have a role in running the offense once Cunningham returns, Sankofa adds. “It’s good to see him not just score the ball. Like I said he’s defending, attacking the basket, knocking down open shots,” Williams said. “I think it’s going to be a good complement with those two playing together within the system.”
  • The Pistons could have $60MM in cap room this summer, and James L. Edwards III and John Hollinger of The Athletic look at how they might spend it, agreeing that it’s likely to be more useful in trading for big salaries rather than signing free agents. Hollinger speculates that the Pistons might have interest in Andrew Wiggins if the Warriors can’t move him before the trade deadline, although he’s a gamble with three years and $85MM left on his contract. Hollinger mentions a few other potential targets with long-term deals, including the NuggetsZeke Nnaji, the SunsNassir Little and the KingsDavion Mitchell.
  • The NBA has moved the starting time of the Pistons’ January 28 contest against the Thunder so it doesn’t conflict with the Detroit Lions’ playoff game on that Sunday, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press.

Central Notes: Ivey, Muscala, Gallinari, Giannis, White

It took nearly half a season, but Jaden Ivey is back to being a central part of the Pistons‘ offense, writes James L. Edwards of The Athletic. Ivey appeared headed for stardom after earning All-Rookie honors last year, but new head coach Monty Williams started the season with a clean slate and forced everyone to earn their playing time. Edwards observes that Williams seemed to have little patience with mistakes from Ivey, who rarely played more than 25 minutes in a game during the season’s first two months.

That changed with a recent injury to Cade Cunningham and an organizational meeting that resulted in a larger role for Ivey, Edwards adds. Over the last nine days, Ivey has the highest usage rate on the team at 31.8% and he tied a career high with 32 points Wednesday night.

“Like I said, I’m trying to learn,” Ivey said. “Each and every day is a learning opportunity for me. Like (Williams) is still trying to figure out everyone and the system, I’m still trying to figure out as much as I can. We’re growing as a team. Sometimes you find growth in the losses.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Williams expects newly acquired Mike Muscala and Danilo Gallinari to be part of the Pistons‘ rotation, according to Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. Gallinari didn’t play Wednesday, but Muscala made his debut with the team, taking James Wiseman‘s place in the rotation. “If you look around the league at young teams, what they’ve done is surround their guys with savvy, experienced players who can still play,” Williams said. “Anytime you do that with high-level, high-character guys like Mike and Gallo, it’s going to be a benefit to your team. It’s not just the in-game stuff. You get a chance to watch how these games work, how they prepare and understand why they’ve been around so long. It’s gonna be an asset to the organization and the program.”
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo sat out Wednesday’s game with a right shoulder contusion, but the Bucks don’t expect him to miss much time, tweets Eric Nehm of The Athletic. “Well, from what I’ve been told, he went through shootaround and then prior to the game tonight, he just felt that he couldn’t go,” coach Adrian Griffin told reporters. “So, we’re just being smart. And I don’t believe it’s going to be multiple games. It’ll just be day-to-day for now.”
  • In an interview with Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic, Bulls guard Coby White talks about a spiritual transformation last summer that led to his breakthrough season.