Mike Muscala picked a bad time to take a nap.
He awoke last Thursday to many missed text messages and phone calls. A day after he was part of a rumored trade from the Hawks, the only NBA team he has known, the forward/center was part of a three-team deal that has him headed to the 76ers. The trade, also involving the Thunder, was made official Wednesday.
“I figured something had happened,” Muscala told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Thursday.
Muscala came to the Hawks as a second-round pick in 2013, acquired in a draft-night trade out of Bucknell. His professional career began in Spain but a number of injuries to Hawks big men that first season necessitated his early arrival in Atlanta. He’s been here ever since.
A fan favorite and near constant participant in team community events, Muscala appeared in 243 regular-season games for the Hawks. He averaged 5.4 points and 3.1 rebounds in 14.7 minutes in his tenure.
“I would say thank you,” Muscala said of his tenure. “Atlanta will also be like a second home to me. Drafted five years ago, playing in Spain for six or seven months and coming back at the end of that year and being here ever since. I met a lot of great people here. Made some great friends. Enjoyed playing with a lot of my teammates, coaches, people in the organization, the ownership, the fans. … I made a lot of memories here. From that aspect, it’s definitely bittersweet. It’s been all I’ve known in the NBA is to be with the Hawks. Change can be good if you embrace it and try to make the most of it and that’s where my heads at.”
The native of Minnesota, Muscala said he will miss the year-round weather in Atlanta.
“That is the biggest thing but that is just from the city standpoint,” Muscala said. “But for more personally, just the relationships I’ve built. When I left Bucknell, it wasn’t about the campus, it was about the relationships I built.”
Muscala has been in Atlanta for much of the summer working out, including at the gym of former teammate Paul Millsap, preparing for the upcoming season on a Hawks team with a first-year head coach and a nucleus of young players.
Muscala said he spoke to 76ers head coach Brett Brown shortly after the deal was agreed upon. The team sees him as a backup center with some opportunity to play power forward, where Muscala’s shooting ability will be a plus. Philadelphia is home to a former teammate and team manager from Bucknell, so there will be friendly faces in the acclimation to new surroundings.
The move to the northeast – look at for those winters again – means Muscala will go from a team in rebuild mode to one with championship aspirations and ability. On the more than change of scenery, Muscala offered this: “I love to compete. My job as a player is to always do that. Obviously there are teams and front offices have certain plans. That’s the business. That’s how it goes. But as a player, my job is to compete and try to win every game. I try not to ever lose sight of that.”