The Boston Celtics were not overly aggressive at the 2023 NBA Trade Deadline. Despite being linked to many high quality players, Boston was not willing to bite. Brad Stevens was determined to give up as few assets as possible.
That doesn’t mean the Celtics weren’t at least slightly active. Afterall, the team was in need of some depth pieces. So, Brad went ahead and found a trade where the Celtics got what they wanted, without giving up a whole lot.
The Celtics swung a trade for Oklahoma City Thunder vet Mike Muscala. He’s been in the league for just about a decade, with Boston being his fifth career team.
The Boston Celtics are acquiring shooting big man Mike Muscala from the Oklahoma City Thunder, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 9, 2023
Muscala isn’t exactly a flashy addition. The big man has career averages of just 6.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 0.3 blocks per game. Not exactly the kind of player who catches your eye right away.
Unless of course you’re Brad Stevens, who apparently has had Muscala on his radar.
Brad Stevens provides details on targeting Mike Muscala, and how he believes he can help the Celtics#BleedGreen pic.twitter.com/LiESsBZm8r— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) February 10, 2023
I’ll be upfront and honest when I say I didn’t love the trade at first glance. Especially when names like Mason Plumlee and Mo Bamba were also moved, and for relatively cheap.
They seemed like better players and better fits for Boston. I still feel that way, honestly. Yet, I also understand why this was the best move for the Celtics.
First and foremost, he came cheap. Cheaper than the other guys who were available. Two second rounders and Justin Jackson, that’s nothing. Then you realize he brings the desired size Boston was looking for at 6’10, 240 lbs.
He brings the desired floor spacing Boston coveted as well. Muscala is shooting 39% from three this season, and is a career 38% three-point shooter. Offensively, he’ll fit right in with the Celtics.
Like Stevens said, Muscala is a very versatile player. He is someone who brings just enough to both sides of the ball. He’s not particularly great at anything, but he’s good enough at many things. That’s a win in my book.
Stevens really put it perfectly, though. He can fit so well with the other bigs and play off them ideally. He’s not someone you’re going to put too much responsibility on them. He can be useful to the team, a point he is proving early.
The sample size is small, granted. However, Muscala already made my bury my initial doubts. The big man had a solid debut, especially considering he had been with the team for not even 48 hours.
Sharp shooter Mike Muscala drains the 3 🎯 pic.twitter.com/g9yha8rx7B— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) February 11, 2023
Muscala delivered a strong first showing, scoring 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting from deep. He did all this in just under 16 minutes of playing time.
Again, not bad for someone who had maybe one Celtics practice under his belt.
Mike Muscala had a SOLID debut with the Celtics 🙌#BleedGreen pic.twitter.com/oxLHFiyXtb— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) February 11, 2023
He did exactly what he was brought in to do. Hit threes, and eat up some minutes from Al Horford and Robert Williams. That is the key aspect of acquiring Muscala.
The reality is, Muscala will be lucky to see the court come playoff time. That’s just how the NBA works. Come playoff time, your rotation shrinks down to seven or eight guys. That doesn’t leave much room for the man nicknamed “Moose” to operate.
So, his role will be realized right here and now. During the regular season. Boston needs Horford and Williams healthy and energized come playoff time. It’ll be hard to have that if they are required to play major minutes throughout the home stretch.
Boston will rely on Muscala to take some of that load off their shoulders. I think he’s capable of doing that, too. If he can play like he did last night, he’ll prove to be quite the useful addition for the Celtics.
I may not have been a believer in the Moose initially, but I’m willing to buy into it now. Let’s hope he won’t let us down.
Featured Photo by Michael Dwyer/AP Photo