Mike Muscala

Wizards Notes: Unseld, Starting Point, Muscala, Omoruyi

While the Wizards‘ new front office has publicly shown support for incumbent head coach Wes Unseld Jr., who was hired by the previous regime, Josh Robbins of The Athletic believes 2023/24 will be a “make-or-break season” for Unseld’s future with the organization.

As Robbins writes, the Wizards have gone 35-47 in each of Unseld’s two seasons at the helm. After trading away Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis, Washington likely took a short-term step backwards, so evaluating Unseld by the team’s record might not be prudent.

Robbins is interested to see how much buy-in Unseld will be able to coax out of the many new faces on the roster, and if the team’s young draft picks will develop over the course of the season, among other evaluation tools.

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • In the same mailbag article, Robbins thinks Tyus Jones, who was acquired from Memphis in the Porzingis trade, has the edge for the starting point guard job heading into the season. His main competition is likely Delon Wright, who has been in trade rumors this offseason. As Robbins notes, Jordan Poole should have plenty of on-ball opportunities as well, even if he’s technically slotted as the shooting guard.
  • Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington evaluates what big man Mike Muscala will bring to the Wizards. As with Jones, Muscala was acquired in the Porzingis deal (from Boston). The 32-year-old makes quick decisions and is a strong off-ball mover in addition to being a threat from deep, Hughes writes.
  • The Wizards signed forward Eugene Omoruyi to a two-way deal last month after he split last season with the Thunder and Pistons. According to Bijan Todd of NBC Sports Washington, Omoruyi is a late bloomer, as he didn’t start playing basketball until he was a sophomore in high school. The 26-year-old is known as a strong cutter and versatile defender, Todd notes.

Southeast Notes: Ball, Highsmith, Muscala, Magic

Hornets star guard LaMelo Ball signed a five-year, maximum-salary designated rookie extension, worth up to a projected $260MM, with Charlotte earlier this summer.

During a press conference with gathered reporters, Ball and team president and general manager Mitch Kupchak spoke about the new agreement, as Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer reports.

“The decision, it wasn’t really hard,” Ball, the third draft pick in 2020, said. “All my years here I’ve had a good time. Life wasn’t bad. The basketball aspect, that’s not really going well. You kind of want to live your life and just have fun and just be living well. So in Charlotte I was doing that, so it just all felt like a great choice.”

Ball was limited to just 36 contests with the Hornets in 2022/23 due to ankle injuries, but was prolific on offense when he did play. The 6’7″ guard averaged 23.3 PPG on .411/.376/.836 shooting splits, along with 8.4 APG and 6.4 RPG. Charlotte has yet to make the playoffs during Ball’s NBA career.

“To have a player of LaMelo’s caliber with his game, with his youth, we know he is going to get better as a player,” Kupchak said. “He’s here every day. He certainly had a setback last year, but in terms of healing, he’s been 100 percent healed and he’s been on the court working out every single day trying to get better.”

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Heat forward Haywood Highsmith recently saw his $1.9MM salary for the 2023/24 season become fully guaranteed, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. “It’s a good step in the right direction for me,” Highsmith told Chiang. “Still developing, still trying to get better and big things coming for me, I hope. I’ve been working hard this offseason, so it’s definitely a good step in the right direction.” Former Miami teammate Udonis Haslem, now retired, unpacked how Highsmith approaches the game. “Undersized, not a guy who you’re going to run a lot of plays for, has to be efficient,” Haslem said. “His approach is a defensive-minded approach, so he takes the challenge every night. He’s just my guy.”
  • Despite a winless five-game 2023 Summer League run, the Magic were able to learn about their two rookie lottery selections, while in turn educating No. 6 pick Anthony Black and No. 11 pick Jett Howard about the team’s own approach to its internal dynamics, writes Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel. “From everybody in the front office to the coaching staff to the players, everybody’s locked in,” Howard said, “We just met each other but we still had the willingness to keep fighting and sticking together. “Even down the stretch when we’re losing, we’re still cognate for one another. We showed up and worked hard in training camp. All of those things just make a culture.”
  • On the cusp of his 11th NBA season, 32-year-old Wizards big man Mike Muscala isn’t taking his longevity for granted, writes Chip Scoggins of The Star Tribune. “As a young athlete, you’re always striving for something,” Muscala said. “It’s like, ‘I want to do this. I want to compete against this person.’ There’s still a lot of value in that. But once you kind of check those boxes, it’s like, now what? When you’re grateful for whatever situation you’re in and the opportunities you have, that’s been motivating me.”

Porzingis To Celtics, Smart To Grizzlies, Jones To Wizards In Three-Team Trade

JUNE 23: The three-team blockbuster is official, according to a press release from the Celtics.

As our draft recap shows, the No. 25 and No. 35 draft picks included in this deal were both flipped to new teams in separate draft-night trade agreements.

JUNE 21: After their three-team framework with the Clippers was scrapped, the Wizards and Celtics have reached a new agreement to send Kristaps Porzingis to Boston, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports.

The Grizzlies will also be involved in the revamped three-team deal, with point guard Tyus Jones heading to Washington and Celtics guard Marcus Smart headed to Memphis, per Wojnarowski.

Celtics big men Mike Muscala and Danilo Gallinari will be sent to the Wizards in the trade, according to Adam Himmselbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter links). Muscala has a $3.5MM team option, which will be exercised as part of the deal.

The Celtics will be receiving Memphis’ first-round pick (No. 25) and Golden State’s top-four protected 2024 first-round pick (via Memphis) for Smart, while the Wizards will acquire No. 35 from Boston for Porzingis.

Although Boston still found a way to acquire Porzingis, who picked up his $36MM player option for 2023/24 as part of the agreement, the incoming and outgoing packages are significantly different than the ones the team discussed with Washington and the Clippers earlier on Wednesday.

Rather than sending out Malcolm Brogdon, the Celtics will lose Smart, the longest-tenured player on the roster who had appeared in nearly 700 total regular season and playoff games for the franchise since 2014. It was widely known that Boston was looking to clear a logjam in its backcourt, but it’s a surprise that Smart will be the odd man out rather than Brogdon or Payton Pritchard. Derrick White appears likely to become the new starting point guard in Boston.

According to NBA reporter Marc Stein (Twitter link), the Clippers had concerns over Brogdon’s injury status. The veteran guard tore a tendon in his right elbow this year and is reportedly hoping to avoid surgery.

Having agreed to give up Smart instead of Brogdon, the Celtics will acquire a pair of first-round picks in addition to Porzingis, who is coming off perhaps the best season of his career. He averaged 23.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.5 blocks in 65 games (32.6 MPG) in 2022/23, posting a shooting line of .498/.385/.851.

According to Stein, Porzingis is hoping to sign an extension with the Celtics and there’s a “strong expectation” that he’ll get two years tacked onto his current contract once he becomes eligible for a new deal in July.

Assuming the Celtics hang onto the No. 25 pick, their projected 2023/24 team salary will increase by about $10MM as a result of this deal, pushing their payroll toward the second tax apron, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. It will be interesting to see what the financial outlook – and the addition of Porzingis – means for restricted free agent Grant Williams, who is hardly a lock to re-sign.

The Wizards, meanwhile, continue their roster reset following the hiring of Michael Winger to run their front office. The team previously agreed to trade Bradley Beal to Phoenix and has focused on avoiding multiyear salary commitments in both deals — Jones ($14MM expiring contract), Gallinari ($6.8MM), and Muscala ($3.5MM) are all on track to reach unrestricted free agency by 2024.

While Gallinari and Muscala look like mere salary-matching inclusions, Jones and the No. 35 overall pick are positive assets.

The Wizards could probably accumulate more draft picks if they were to flip Jones to another team, but it sounds like the plan is to make him their starting point guard in 2023/24, per ESPN’s reporting. Monte Morris and Delon Wright are also in that point guard picture for the time being, as is Chris Paul, though he may be traded to a new team or bought out.

It’s an especially interesting move for the Grizzlies, who will be without star point guard Ja Morant for the first 25 games of 2023/24 while he serves a suspension. Jones, one of the league’s top reserve point guards in recent years, projected to be the starter in Morant’s absence, but now that job may belong to Smart.

Besides being able to handle point guard duties, Smart – the 2022 Defensive Player of the Year – will provide the Grizzlies with the sort of perimeter stopper they’ll be losing when Dillon Brooks departs in free agency this offseason. As Stein writes, he should also bring some veteran leadership and stability to Memphis’ locker room.

Smart will receive a $1MM trade bonus as a result of the deal, according to Marks (Twitter link). That money will be spread out across the remaining years on his contract, slightly bumping his cap hits for each season.

The Grizzlies now project to be about $20MM below next season’s tax line, so they should have the full mid-level exception available to spend in free agency if they so choose, Marks adds (via Twitter).

Luke Adams contributed to this story.

Final Round-Up Of 2022/23 In-Season Trades

We covered 11 of the significant in-season deals of 2022/23 in our trade breakdown series. Here’s a rundown of the six other trades that occurred in January and February.

Noah Vonleh salary dump

On January 5:

  • The Spurs acquired Noah Vonleh and cash ($1.5MM)
  • The Celtics acquired the Spurs’ 2024 second-round pick (top-54 protected)

Entering 2022/23, the Spurs were one of two teams with a significant amount of cap room available, making them a prime target for salary dumps. That’s all this trade boiled down to for the Celtics.

By trading Vonleh before his salary became guaranteed, the Celtics not only removed his $1.16MM cap hit and saved $7.15MM toward their luxury tax bill, but they also freed up a roster spot. It also minimized the amount of cash they had to send out to make the deal – if they had waited a few more days, Vonleh’s cap hit would have increased to $1,836,090, which is the standard amount for all veterans on one-year, minimum-salary contracts.

The Celtics still technically paid Vonleh all but two days of the prorated minimum salary he received this season — the Spurs paid the final two days after acquiring and waiving him. Removing him from the books was purely about the financial impact, as he was a deep-bench reserve who seldom played (in 23 games, he averaged just 7.4 minutes per contest).

Boston also created a traded player exception equivalent to Vonleh’s salary since it didn’t receive a player in return.

Vonleh did not catch on with another team after the trade and the 27-year-old big man will still be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

The pick the Spurs sent out is extremely unlikely to convey — they just had to send something back in return. They also waived – and later re-signed – center Gorgui Dieng as part of this trade, which moved them marginally closer to the salary cap floor.

Essentially, they net gained about $339K in cash as part of the deal and were able to keep Dieng around as a veteran leader after he cleared waivers .

Dewayne Dedmon salary dump

On February 7:

  • The Spurs acquired Dewayne Dedmon and the Heat’s 2028 second-round pick
  • The Heat acquired cash ($110K).

Another salary dump, this time for the Heat. Dedmon had fallen out of Miami’s rotation – he had been dealing with plantar fasciitis, and was suspended one game for a sideline incident that saw him swat a Theragun (a massage device) onto the court out of anger after being subbed out.

Removing Dedmon’s $4.7MM cap hit gave the Heat the financial flexibility to sign a couple of frontcourt reinforcements — Kevin Love and Cody Zeller — while still remaining below the luxury tax line. They already had one open roster spot and removing Dedmon freed up a second, so they didn’t have to release anyone to add the two veterans.

As with Boston, Miami also generated a TPE equal to Dedmon’s salary since the team didn’t acquire a player in return.

As previously mentioned, the Spurs had ample cap room available and used more of it to add and then waive Dedmon (who signed with the Sixers but rarely plays), acquiring a second-round pick in the process. They only sent out $110K to complete the transaction, which is the minimum amount a team can send or receive in a trade in ‘22/23.

Kessler Edwards salary dump

On February 7:

Another minor trade, this time a salary dump for the Nets. The primary difference is the Kings actually kept Edwards instead of immediately waiving him.

Brooklyn saved about $8MM in salary and luxury tax payments by moving Edwards, a 2021 second-round pick out of Pepperdine. He showed some promise as a rookie, but only played 27 minutes for the Nets this season.

As a second-year player on a minimum-salary contract, Edwards is earning $1,637,966 in ‘22/23. That’s the amount of the TPE the Nets created in this deal. Michineau is currently playing in Italy and every year he remains overseas, he’s less likely to ever be brought stateside.

Still just 22 years old, Edwards has been a rotation member over the past month for Sacramento, averaging 3.9 points and 2.0 rebounds on .435/.349/.769 shooting in 22 games (13.9 minutes). The Kings will have a $1.93MM team option on Edwards for ‘23/24 if they want to bring him back – considering he was getting rotation minutes down the stretch, I’d be mildly surprised if they don’t exercise it.

Rockets/Hawks four-player deal

On February 9:

This trade (understandably) flew under the radar a bit due to all the blockbusters on deadline day, but it was pretty interesting for both sides because it was more complicated than it appears on the surface.

For example, the Hawks were able to treat this as essentially three separate trades rolled into one. They acquired Mathews with an existing TPE, did a simultaneous trade of Kaminsky for Fernando, and then a non-simultaneous trade of Holiday, which allowed them to create a new mid-sized outstanding trade exception of $6,292,440, equal to Holiday’s outgoing cap charge.

Both Mathews (26) and Fernando (24) are young and have played some solid basketball across their four NBA seasons, and their contracts are affordable. However, neither played much for the Hawks, and their salaries are non-guaranteed for ’23/24, so it’s certainly not a given that they’ll be back next season.

The primary purpose of the deal was to clear enough salary cap space to remain below the luxury tax line. Atlanta used that extra breathing room to acquire Saddiq Bey – a third-year forward who has become a key bench contributor – with a separate trade exception.

The Rockets could not complete this as a straight two-for-two simultaneous trade, as the amount of incoming money from Holiday and Kaminsky was greater than 175% of Mathews’ and Fernando’s salaries (plus $100K). Instead, they treated it as a simultaneous trade for Holiday and used the minimum salary exception to acquire Kaminsky.

Houston’s primary motivation was to acquire the two second-round picks from the Thunder, which Atlanta controlled from a previous trade. OKC is on an upward trajectory, so it’s hard to say where those picks might land, but it was solid value for taking on about $4MM in added salary.

The Rockets reportedly had interest in retaining both veterans, but Holiday wound up seeking a buyout and caught on with the Mavericks. Both Holiday and Kaminsky will be unrestricted free agents this summer.

Mike Muscala to Boston

On February 9:

  • The Celtics acquired Mike Muscala
  • The Thunder acquired Justin Jackson, a 2023 second-round pick and Boston’s 2029 second-round pick

A classic win-now move from a championship contender, which Boston certainly is. A long-range shooting specialist, Muscala has shot a combined 40.8% from deep over the past two seasons, averaging 6.9 PPG and 3.1 RPG in 14.5 MPG over that span (106 games).

Adding another big man shooter allows the Celtics to play a five-out system to maximize floor spacing for drives, kick-outs, and swinging the ball around to find the open man. He’s also on a relatively affordable $3.5MM contract with an identical team option for ‘23/24 – it’s important to find value on the cheap for any team, but particularly taxpayers like Boston.

You could say this deal is sort of connected to the aforementioned salary dump of Vonleh, since the Celtics added about $6.4MM to their tax bill by swapping out Jackson’s minimum-salary contract for Muscala. The Celtics had to use a trade exception left over from last year’s trade deadline to acquire him, as Jackson’s cap hit wasn’t large enough to match his incoming salary (they also created another small trade exception equivalent to Jackson’s salary).

While Muscala is far from a defensive stopper, his teams have actually been better on that end with him on the court in each of the past three seasons. The 31-year-old is not a rim protector nor a great rebounder, so those numbers may be a little noisy due to primarily playing against reserves.

The Thunder added Jackson (and then immediately waived him) using the minimum salary exception, generating a new trade exception equivalent to Muscala’s $3.5MM salary. They also added a couple of second-round picks, which is solid value given Muscala’s modest role — as the youngest team in the league, it’s not like Muscala was in OKC’s long-term plans, even if he was a steady veteran presence who contributed on the court as well.

Interestingly, the 2023 second-rounder heading to OKC is still up in the air and won’t be determined until next month’s draft lottery, because the Rockets finished the season tied with the Spurs for the NBA’s second-worst record – whichever team selects earlier in the lottery will have the less favorable second-round pick.

If Houston’s second-round pick lands at No. 32, the Thunder will receive the Heat’s second-rounder (via Boston), but if it lands at No. 33, OKC will receive Portland’s second-rounder (via Boston).

There’s a substantial difference in value between those two second-rounders – the Blazers’ pick will land at No. 35, while the Heat’s will be between Nos. 48-50 (pending the results of a three-team tiebreaker). Clearly, the Thunder will be hoping that Houston drafts ahead of San Antonio in the first round, though I’m sure they’d rather not see either of their conference rivals land the No. 1 overall pick and the chance to select Victor Wembanyama.

Mason Plumlee to the Clippers

On February 9:

Another relatively modest win-now deal, this time for the Clippers, who had been looking for reliable center depth leading up to the deadline and found it in Plumlee, a 10-year veteran who was surprisingly having the best season of his career for Charlotte at age 32.

In 56 games with the Hornets, all starts, he posted career highs in several categories, including field-goal percentage (66.9%), points (12.2), rebounds (9.7), assists (3.7) and minutes per game (28.5). His playing time has dipped since he joined the Clippers, which is understandable because he’s playing behind Ivica Zubac – he averaged 7.5 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 23 games (four starts, 19.9 minutes).

Plumlee’s expiring salary made him a natural trade candidate, particularly since the Hornets have drafted multiple centers in the past few years and had a disappointing 2022/23 season due in part to off-court issues and injuries. Jackson was reportedly a positive locker-room presence, but he was struggling for the second straight season and the Clippers only had to give up one second-rounder and some cash to complete the deal.

Plumlee has some limitations (he’s a non-shooter and a below-average defender), but he plays hard, sets solid screens, and generally is in the right spots. The Clippers will have his Bird rights if they want to re-sign him this summer.

L.A. also generated a small ($2,134,843) trade exception as part of the deal, which was the difference in Jackson’s ($11,215,260) and Plumlee’s ($9,080,417) salaries. While the Clippers did save some money here, they actually added to their tax bill with their other trades (acquiring Bones Hyland and Eric Gordon in separate deals).

One rumor leading up to the deadline indicated the Hornets were looking for a first-round pick for Plumlee, but I didn’t view that as realistic – he’s mostly been a backup, and while his contract isn’t unreasonable, it’s also expiring, so he could be a rental player. They also received some cash as part of the deal to help offset the aforementioned salary differences.

Jackson subsequently reached a buyout and signed with Denver, so clearly the primary motivation for Charlotte was extracting whatever draft capital it could in return for Plumlee. I’m sure giving the team’s young centers more minutes was a motivating factor as well, but president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak said after the deadline that he was concerned about having so many free agents due to the uncertainty of what it will take to re-sign them.

The Hornets gave backup center Nick Richards a three-year, $15MM extension last month, so both he and rookie starter Mark Williams will be under team control for at least three more seasons.

Celtics Notes: Brogdon, Muscala, Gallinari, Injury Report

Malcolm Brogdon knew he was going to be a sixth man when the Celtics traded for him last summer and he may have become the best in the league at that role, writes Souichi Terada of MassLive.

Brogdon, who’s in a battle with the Knicks’ Immanuel Quickley for Sixth Man of the Year honors, is making a late push for the award, delivering a 29-point performance in Wednesday’s win over the Raptors. While Brogdon would welcome the recognition, he considers it secondary to being part of a winning team again.

“I want to win,” he said. “The last two seasons for me were rough, not being able to win. I’m a winner. I feel like I’ve been known as a winner. I want to be known as a winner when I’m done playing in this league, and I want to win at the highest level, and that’s winning a championship. So being in Boston, being a Celtic fits me perfectly.”

Celtics officials view the fit the same way, Terada adds, as Brogdon has become a leader in the locker room in addition to his on-court production. He also provides additional depth that the team lacked last season when it appeared to run out of gas during the NBA Finals.

“The humility that he brings to our team, he takes that pride in the second unit,” coach Joe Mazzulla said. “In order to be a great team, you have to have people like that and we have that from top to bottom. Different guys do different things, and Malcolm has come in here with patience, humility and understanding.”

There’s more on the Celtics:

  • Mike Muscala delivered 12 points and six rebounds in 32 minutes on Wednesday while making his third start since Boston acquired him from the Thunder at the trade deadline, per Brian Robb of MassLive. Muscala, who suffered through a shooting slump in March, was 3-for-5 on three-pointers, including a clutch shot in the closing minutes. That’s the kind of production he’ll need to carve out a role in the playoffs. “I think the challenge for me is to keep that mindset regardless of how many minutes you’re playing because those are the players that are harder to guard when you have that mindset,” Muscala said. “No matter if you’re playing five minutes or playing 30, you come in and you’re aggressive and that part should not waver.”
  • The Celtics are likely to bring back Danilo Gallinari for another season rather than try to deal him during the summer, Robb states in a mailbag column. Robb believes the team showed its commitment to the veteran forward, who suffered a torn ACL shortly after signing as a free agent, by not moving him at the trade deadline.
  • With the second seed wrapped up, Brogdon, Marcus Smart, Payton Pritchard and Derrick White are all listed as questionable for Friday’s rematch with Toronto, tweets Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca.

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.