Stretch big man Mike Muscala traded to the Sixers
A Carmelo Anthony deal between the Thunder and Hawks somehow saw 27-year-old stretch big Mike Muscala traded to the 76ers. In exchange for Muscala’s services, Philadelphia sends Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot to OKC, and Justin Anderson to former Sixers’ assistant coach Lloyd Pierce in Atlanta. This deal comes just a few days after stretch-4 Nemanja Bjelica opted not to sign with Philadelphia.
Sources: As part of multi-team Carmelo Anthony/Dennis Schröder deal, Atlanta's Mike Muscala will go to Philadelphia, 76ers' Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot will be traded to Oklahoma City and 76ers' Justin Anderson to Atlanta.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 19, 2018
What are we getting with Muscala traded to us?
The 6-foot-10 forward/center has spent all five of his NBA seasons in Atlanta. His five million dollar deal will expire at the end of the 2018-19 season, allowing the Sixers to maintain their cap space. Muscala is capable of playing both the four and the five but is naturally a true center.
The Bucknell product shot .37 percent from deep last year in 53 games for Atlanta. Muscala recorded a career high in points and rebounds per game last season, with 7.6 and 4.3 respectively.
While the former second-round pick isn’t quite a defensive liability, he won’t serve nearly as much of a defensive role off the bench as Amir Johnson. Between those two, the Sixers have some flexibility in how they’ll fill minutes when Joel Embiid is on the bench.
What did we lose?
When the Hawks traded Muscala to the Sixers, he came at the cost of 2016 1st round pick Luwawu-Cabarrot, who was in danger of being cut at the start of the season. UVA product Justin Anderson is also a casualty of Muscala’s arrival.
Of the two, Anderson provides slightly more value. While his defensive prowess might have been overstated, he is a fierce competitor, and anyone able to get under the skin of Dwyane Wade in a playoff series is someone I’d want on my team.
Ultimately, Anderson showed potential in his time in Philly, but his inconsistent jumper just made him impossible to trust on a regular basis.
TLC also showed some flashes but wasn’t ready to contribute in the playoffs last season. His minutes would have likely further decreased with the additions of Zhaire Smith, Landry Shamet, and Wilson Chandler. There’s a very good chance he would not have made the roster.
Muscala’s one-year deal replaces the money that would have been owed to Bjelica, yet still leaves the 76ers with cap flexibility next off-season.
What does the trade mean for the team moving forward?
The willingness to let go of TLC and Anderson shows confidence in Smith and Chandler to hold down the fort on the wing. I believe Anderson still had a valuable skill set to offer the team, but there’s definitely merit in giving his minutes to Smith.
While Jonah Bolden had a rough Summer League, it still seems he will be on the roster this season. The addition of Bolden, as well as Muscala, could spell the end for Richaun Holmes’s run in Philly. Holmes is clearly much more athletic than Muscala but is still miles away from being a truly capable rim protector. Between Embiid, Johnson, Muscala, and Bolden, I don’t see where Holmes can find minutes.
How will this trade affect the season?
Ultimately, I think this trade is just another humdrum move in what has been a disappointing off-season. The 76ers did not have to acquire that third star this summer, but they claimed they were trying to. For them to only end up with Chandler and Muscala is frustrating, to say the least.
The 27-year-old definitely adds something off the bench. I believe him to be of more value than Bjelica based on his defensive versatility alone. Make no mistake; the center rotation of Embiid, Johnson, and Muscala will be one of the deepest in the league. With Embiid’s health seemingly always in question, the Sixers should always be willing to seek big man depth.
I’m not sure the trade moves the needle in one way or the other. I was an advocate of not worrying about replacing Bjelica, in favor of awarding his minutes to younger guys. However, replacing him with Muscala seems to add a stretch-big to the bench without sacrificing much defensive flexibility due to the presence of Johnson.
It’s possible that the absence of TLC and Anderson could provide more minutes to Furkan Korkmaz. After his *ahem* interesting run in Summer League, it would be nice to see what he can provide to an NBA lineup.
For now, the outlook of the season remains relatively unchanged. With Muscala traded to the Sixers, they add depth in one position and lose some in another. With all of this off-season’s moves being for players on one-year deals, they leave themselves open to continue their star hunt next summer, which must remain the priority.
Featured photo: Keith Allison via Flickr.
All stats used in this article courtesy of basketball-reference.com.
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