Before the 2018 NBA Draft even arrived, Dewayne Dedmon elected to exercise his player option to remain with the Atlanta Hawks. That was something of a surprise, if only from a timing perspective, but there was a similar domino still to fall in the person of Mike Muscala. Like Dedmon, Muscala’s deadline for exercising his 2018-2019 player option was June 29 and, in the end, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the veteran big man reportedly elected to do just that.
Hawks forward Mike Muscala has exercised his $5M player option, source tells ESPN. He will be back with Atlanta.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 24, 2018
Following the initial report, a league source confirmed that Muscala, who will turn 27 on July 1, exercised the option to make $5 million for the upcoming season, and he will become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2019. Since being tabbed with the No. 44 pick in the 2013 draft, Muscala has appeared in 243 games for the Hawks and Atlanta is the only organization for which he has played to this point.
Last season, Muscala battled an ankle injury that kept him sidelined for two months but, following his return, the former Bucknell standout performed quite well. He is certainly a supporting piece but Muscala converted 37.1 percent of his three-point attempts (while doubling the volume from the previous season) and he posted career-bests in points per game, rebounds per game and turnover rate.
Given the regime change when it comes to the coaching staff, it will be interesting to see what Muscala’s role will be this season. John Collins appears destined for greater responsibility and, with Dedmon back in the fold (at least for now), Muscala would slot in as the theoretical third big man before free agency begins in earnest on July 1. Beyond that, the presence of No. 30 overall pick Omari Spellman is intriguing, particularly in that he profiles in a similar role to Muscala when it comes to floor-spacing and a combination between time at center and power forward in the future.
Muscala joins Dedmon in exercising relatively lucrative player options and, perhaps more importantly, avoiding what could be a treacherous free agent market that features teams with very limited flexibility from a salary cap perspective. From the Hawks standpoint, the team adds a competent rotational big man that fits the floor-spacing ethos put forth during the 2018 draft and Muscala’s contract is perfectly reasonable for the upcoming year.