Ex-Laker Stretch Five Could ‘Change Things’ For Celtics

For the time being the Boston Celtics plan to roll into the season with Luke Kornet as their primary backup center behind Al Horford and Robert Williams III. However, should Kornet not pan out well as a satisfactory center, the Celtics have options with the trade exceptions they have at their disposal. The team currently has the $6.9 million Juancho Hernangomez trade exception and the $5.9 million Dennis Schroder trade exception.

The Celtics can potentially acquire another backup center through one of those options. An assistant coach spoke with Heavy’s Sean Deveney about one of the options the Celtics could look at with one of those exceptions: Mike Muscala.

Muscala, who briefly played for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2019, is commonly described as a stretch-big. He could be what the Celtics are looking for if they want an offensive jolt in their frontcourt, according to the assistant.

“He can shoot. He knocks down 3s on the wings. If you’re having a sluggish game offensively, he can change things with a couple of makes. Definitely a guy (the Celtics) could get if they’re looking to build on that shooting dimension.”

Muscala is a career 37.7 percent shooter from three, and he’s coming off a campaign in which he shot 42.9 percent from distance. If the Celtics want their third big to be a floor spacer, Muscala would answer the call. However, the Celtics may not be interested in Muscala if they want a third center that’s consistently available.

Muscala Has Injury Concerns

The assistant coach brought up that Muscala’s injury history could potentially be a turnoff.

“He had trouble staying healthy there last year,” the assistant said. “The last couple years really, with the ankle surgery.”

Since joining the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2019, Muscala has played 47, 35, and 43 games over the last three seasons. The most games he’s played in one season was 70 with the Atlanta Hawks during the 2016-17 season.

The assistant added that Muscala’s physical makeup may not make him a fit for what Head Coach Ime Udoka wants to see from his frontcourt.

“I think the Celtics want a bit more of a big body in there for their third big guy, and Muscala is more of the stretch-5 type so, that may be one where Ime (Udoka) wouldn’t play him much… just not sure he’s Ime’s type from a defensive standpoint.”

It’s evident that some issues could arise if the Celtics acquire Muscala with the intent of playing him consistent minutes. However, his skillset is tantalizing enough that Jay King sees him as someone the Celtics could look into as a trade deadline target.

Muscala Called a Potential Frontcourt Upgrade

King listed Muscala as a possible option should no one stand out as a dependable backup behind Al Horford and Robert Williams III.

They still have trade exceptions of $6.9 million and $5.9 million that could be used to hunt another backup center. The options wouldn’t be super enticing, but somebody like Mike Muscala probably would be pretty cheap and available at the deadline if Boston needs a frontcourt upgrade then.

King also reiterated that the Celtics will look at who they have now first before making a move.

In the meantime, the Celtics could use Grant Williams at center if necessary (he played substantial minutes there as a rookie), but they believe Kornet will be fine in that role.

According to Spotrac, Muscala will be paid $3.5 million for the 2022-23 season, so he could fit into either exception. However, he is not trade eligible until December 15, 2022. Also, he has the right to veto any trade too. Even if the Celtics were to inquire about his services, he could easily turn down a trade.

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