The Hawks reached across the Atlantic to bolster their depleted big-man ranks — bringing back one of their own.
The Hawks negotiated a buyout agreement with second-round draft pick Mike Muscala and his Spanish League team Tuesday, according to multiple people familiar with the situation, including a former coach. The center traveled to the United States, where he will sign a contract with the Hawks.
The pending roster move first was reported by Sportando, with Muscala’s European agent cited as the source. Blusens Monbus Obradoiro, the team Muscala played 20 games for this season, posted on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon that an agreement had been reached. Translated from Spanish, the post read: “River Natura Monbus and Atlanta Hawks reached an agreement for the transfer of Mike Muscala.”
The Hawks had no comment Tuesday. There is no immediate timetable on when Muscala will join the team, as the deal is pending final details.
The 7-footer signed with Obradoiro of the ACB League last summer to continue his development. He had a strong season and led the ACB League in rebounding (7.8) and was seventh in scoring (14.6).
Muscala was acquired by the Hawks with the 44th pick, via a trade with the Mavericks, in the 2013 draft. The Hawks continued to hold his NBA rights as he signed to play in Spain. Muscala’s contract with Obradoiro was believed to be a one-year deal that ran through the league’s regular season and playoffs that end in June.
The website HoopsHype first reported Monday that the Hawks had contacted Obradoiro about Muscala. On Tuesday he was boarding a plane for the United States, texting his former coach right up until he boarded the plane.
The Hawks have been decimated by injury at center. They have started four different players at the position this season. Al Horford was lost in December to season-ending surgery for a torn right pectoral muscle. He was replaced by Pero Antic, who has missed the past 15 games with a stress fracture in his right ankle. He was replaced by Gustavo Ayon, who has missed the past four games with a right shoulder injury. Elton Brand has started seven games since Horford’s injury, including the past four.
The Hawks signed center Dexter Pittman to a 10-day contract Saturday. He could be waived to clear a roster spot for Muscala.
Injury report: Paul Millsap missed his second consecutive game with a bruised right knee. He did not play against the Bulls on Tuesday and will miss the game against the Celtics on Wednesday. Antic also will miss the two games. Ayon, who did not practice Monday, did not play Tuesday. His status has not been declared for Wednesday.
With Millsap out, coach Mike Budenholzer used a starting lineup that moved DeMarre Carroll to power forward. He was joined by Jeff Teague, Shelvin Mack, Kyle Korver and Brand.
Budenholzer said he was looking to add depth to his big-man rotation and would use Mike Scott off the bench.
“Part of it is managing the whole game,” Budenholzer said. “It’s a 48-minute game. We need to create some depth at (power forward and center).”