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Muscala calls decision to return to Hawks a ‘no-brainer’

Mike Muscala got engaged, bought a house, built a home gym and experienced free agency for the first time.

Life has a changed for the Hawks center this summer. Yet one facet remained the same. Muscala will continue to play in Atlanta.

Muscala agreed to a two-year, $10 million contract with the Hawks as an unrestricted free agent last week. The deal calls for a second-year player option meaning Muscala could explore the market again next summer. The Hawks have yet to announce the signing. Muscala is back where it all started. He has played all four seasons after being a second-round pick in 2013.

“Definitely great to be back,” Muscala said. “Atlanta will always be a special place for me. It’s where I started by NBA career. It was really a no-brainer. Obviously, I’m really excited for what’s ahead.”

Muscala said there was interest from several teams but he knew where he wanted to be.

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Muscala bought an off-season home in his native Minnesota. He converted the detached garage into a 1,000 square foot gym. He has spent the offseason working on his game while things back in Atlanta have also changed. Muscala is one of just six players remaining on the roster from the 15 that ended the season.

There could be a much different role for Muscala next season.

“That is yet to be seen,” Muscala said. “Obviously we are going to miss Paul (Millsap) and Tim (Hardaway Jr.) and Dwight (Howard), for sure. But, for me, I’m trying to continue to improve my game. It’s hard to know what is going to happen with the roster. I think there is going to be an opportunity but there is still time in free agency and time for rosters to change across the league. It’s definitely going to be a different team. For me personally and the guys who are on the squad it’s going to be a good opportunity.”

The Hawks roster currently has Muscala, Miles Plumlee and Diamond Stone at the center position. Muscala is far and away most versatile of the three with an ability to shoot from the outside. He shot a career-best .418 from 3-point range last season.

In addition to being a handy man around his new house, Muscala said he continues to work on his game in anticipation for next season. His to-do list includes:

* Working on his jump shot

* Getting stronger

* Getting in shape

* Working to create off the dribble

* Working to create his own shot in the post

“I’m learning something new every day,” Muscala said.

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