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NBA Free Agent Profile: Mike Muscala

Power Forward / Center | 6’11 | 26 yrs old | URFA | 6.2 ppg | 3.4 rpg | 0.6 bpg

Could Mike Muscala make a return to the Mavericks?

You are probably thinking, “How the heck can he possibly return to the Mavs? He has never played for the Mavs!”

Yes, you are right, Mike Muscala has never actually played for the Dallas Mavericks but he was theoretically drafted by the team.

The 6’11 center from Bucknell was drafted by the Mavericks with the 44th pick in the 2013 draft. His draft rights were subsequently traded to the Atlanta Hawks along with the 16th pick Lucas Nogueira and former Mavericks 2012 1st round pick Jared Cunningham for the 18th pick who ended up being Shane Larkin.

Yikes, that trade turned out to be a wash.

So now with the youth movement in full swing, it appears the Mavericks could be interested in Muscala’s services as a depth piece off the bench. Muscala fits the Mavs youth timeline as he celebrated his 26th birthday yesterday. He will be entering his 5th year in the NBA.

Let’s take a closer look at what the “Moose” could bring to the table for the Mavs.

What he does well

What makes him such an intriguing option for the Mavericks is that of his positional versatility. Muscala is a modern stretch big man that can play both the power forward and center position. He would serve nicely as a backup big that could fill in at both frontline positions. If the Mavericks see him more as a center off the bench, replacing Nerlens Noel, Muscala would then offer a different dynamic offensively thanks to his recent success shooting the ball.

When Muscala entered the league in 2014, he was never really known for his 3-point shooting. Now, Muscala is one of the more reliable big man 3-point shooters in the league. Muscala has increased his 3 point attempts in each of his 4 years in the league. He had shot just 64 attempts in his first 3 seasons. Last year, Muscala almost doubled that total, totaling 110 attempts at 41.8%. The ability to shoot is one of the most valuable skill sets in the NBA, Muscala totally fits the bill in that regard for the Mavericks

Where does he struggle?

The modern NBA is all about exploiting weaknesses out on the court. If a player can’t defend, teams will isolate that player and consistenly attack that player until a coach adjusts. Coming out of college Muscala was more of a lowpost player and had an above average ability to block shots. During his senior year at Bucknell he averaged 2.4 blocks per game. In the NBA, Muscala has only managed to block 0.5 shots per game. His per 36 numbers come out to be a little more impressive as averages 1.4 blocks per contest. Due to the limited minutes Muscala has accumulated in the NBA, the jury is still out on his ability to protect the rim. Would the Mavericks have rim protection issues with a frontline of Dirk Nowitzki and Mike Muscala?

What Would It Take For Muscala to Become a Mav?

The Mavs currently have $60.9 million in guaranteed 2017-2018 salary. So right now they are operating with zero cap space. They can free up around $30.6 million after renouncing Dirk Nowitzki and Nerlens Noel. It’s unlikely that they will renounce Noel. Nowitzki and Noel currently make up $50.2 million in free-agent cap holds. Depending on how the Mavericks operate the team will have cap space to spend.

It’ll be interesting to see where the Atlanta Hawks prioritze Muscala into their offseason plans. It’s rumored that Paul Millsap will not be returning to the team, so does that move Muscala up the pecking order? If Muscala decides that Atlanta isn’t the place for him, the Mavericks will have to answer some questions internally. Is the team convinced Salah Mejri is the future backup center? If they aren’t convinced he is, the team should pursue Muscala. He is rumored to be in the market for a contract in the $7-8 million dollar range anually. If the Mavericks could lock him up to a 2-3 year deal with a partial guarentee for the final year, it may be worthwhile.

Staff writer covering the Dallas Mavericks | Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. Received my Bachelor of Science in Sport Administration from the University of Cincinnati in 2012. NBA fan in a college basketball city. I've been a MFFL since the Nellie Days.

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