Photo Credits: Alonzo Adams/USA Today Sports
When Mike Muscala strolled out of an emotional exit interview in May, there was no certainty “Moose” would ever suit back up in a Thunder jersey. In Muscala’s interview, he stated, “I’ll always be a Thunder fan and always rooting for the Thunder.” For some, those seemed like Muscala’s final words. As we know today, however, those words spelled a new breath of fresh air between himself and the franchise.
As reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Oklahoma City Thunder have resigned Mike Muscala to a two-year, $7 million deal. The deal marks the first Thunder signing of free agency.
For Mike Muscala, this deal comes straight from the heart. Mike Muscala had a golden opportunity to be traded or released in an effort to join a contender at the trade deadline — instead, he stuck until around the closure of the season. This offseason, Mike Muscala’s ability to stretch the floor would’ve garnered multiple suitors, likely contenders — instead, he stood with Oklahoma City again even despite a clear rebuild taking place within the franchise.
Mike Muscala had been, and still will be a leader on Oklahoma City’s youth-induced roster. At age 30, Muscala is the second-oldest player on the roster behind Kemba Walker (age 31). The kicker, Kemba hasn’t stepped foot in a Thunder jersey, Muscala is tied for the longest-tenured player on the roster.
Muscala played at career levels last season before being pulled for younger talent in early March. In his 35 regular-season appearances, Muscala averaged 9.7 points and 3.8 off a paltry 18.4 minutes. As a shooter, Muscala became a primary option in the pick-and-pop, shooting 37.0% from deep on 5.3 attempts.
The long-term impact of Muscala absorbing roster spot may not be as visible as taking a risk on a potential-driven player, but the guidance he’ll give to the younger core will be nothing short of instrumental. Even as a player, Mike Muscala earned every minute played last season, and as it stands, he’s the top dog in sourcing pick-and-pop offense alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Muscala joins center Derrick Favors as the only “traditional” centers on Oklahoma City’s roster.