The Sixers had a few clear needs heading into the trade deadline, and whilst the George Hill trade addressed the most important (perimeter creation) need without sacrificing significant future assets, it did not address the lack of a ‘stretch’ big to play in lineups with Ben Simmons when Joel Embiid is off the floor. In fact by trading away both Tony Bradley and Vincent Poirier the Sixers are now very thin on front court depth, with only Dwight Howard, Mike Scott and the still very raw Paul Reed as options when either Embiid or Tobias Harris is off the court.
As I wrote about in February CLICK HERE an obvious solution was to take back Mike Muscala from OKC as a part of the George Hill trade. Muscala is in the midst of a career year, shooting 37% from three on an incredible 10.3 attempts/36 minutes. He is the most prolific three point shooting big in the NBA over the past two seasons (see stats below) but he is clearly surplus to requirements on a rebuilding Thunder team.
The 29 year old has only appeared in one game for the OKC Thunder since the all-star break as the Thunder prioritise development time for young bigs Moses Brown (21yo), Aleksej Pokucevski (19), Isaiah Roby and Tony Bradley (both 23). This pattern is expected to continue which makes his non-inclusion in the trade even more puzzling. Did Daryl Morey not want him? or was Oklahoma City asking for an asset (another second round draft pick) that Morey was not willing to give up?
It is still possible that Muscala could end up on the Sixers this season but the clock is ticking. If players are waived on or before April 9th, they can be eligible to play on the playoff roster of another team (note they don’t have to be signed by the new team by April 9th). Surely if Muscala wants to be released and play for another team, OKC would grant his wish and waive him (they could use the roster spot to take a flyer on another young player). I for one, will be monitoring this situation closely leading up to April 9.
Many people thought that Kelly Olynyk could possibly have been a buyout candidate since he was traded to Houston, but he is playing a big role for the Rockets (he scored 26 points in 33 minutes against the Pelicans last night) and it would be surprising if he were to request a buyout at this point. Another potential option, DeMarcus Cousins has reportedly agreed to a 10-day contract with the LA Clippers leaving the Sixers with precious little options.