OKC Thunder: Noel reportedly back, shooters Muscata, Burks added

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Nerlens Noel (3) battles under the basket with New Orleans Pelicans forward Julius Randle (30) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018. Despite reportedly backing away from a deal that would have kept him with the Thunder next season on Sunday, Noel was reportedly back in agreement with the team on Monday.

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Perhaps now the Steven Adams rumors can kick back up again?

Or not.

Whatever, the mini-controversy over the state of Nerlens Noel’s return to the Thunder appeared settled Monday. That and, believe it or not, Oklahoma City appears to have a little more shooting in the fold.

What happened?

• In the first 24 hours of the NBA’s free agency period, two different Thunder roster moves were reported.

One, backup center Nerlens Noel, having rejected his player option for a final year under his old contract, had agreed to remain in OKC under a new contract.

Two, late Sunday, the Thunder came to terms with 6-foot-11 power forward/center, Mike Muscala, who played for both Philadelphia and the Los Angeles Lakers last season.

• The Muscala deal, however, appeared to throw the Noel deal into doubt as three hours after ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Noel had agreed to new terms, he reported the deal was not yet done, tweeting the following:

“Free agent Nerlens Noel has asked OKC for time to re-evaluate [its] earlier commitment on a new deal and sides are continuing discussions, league sources tell ESPN.”

Noel only fueled more doubt by posting two cryptic question marks — “??” — as his Instagram story.

• However, as Monday bled into Tuesday, the second and third days of the NBA’s free agency period, greater clarity appears at hand, thanks to additional reporting that has Noel again committed to new terms with the Thunder.

• That means OKC now has three centers on its roster: Adams, Noel and Muscala.

Though Adams’ name has come up in possible moves aimed at cutting salary and luxury taxes that might clear the way for additional roster moves, he has not been mentioned in any specific scenarios that have him leaving Oklahoma City.

• It also means Oklahoma City picked up some much-needed shooting in Muscala, who is capable of spreading the floor and effectively shoot 3-pointers at the power forward or center position.

In six NBA seasons, he’s made 36.5 percent of his attempts from beyond the 3-point arc, making 218 of 597.

Last season, Muscala made 34.8 percent from distance, but 36.8 percent his final 17 games after being traded from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. He spent his first five seasons in the NBA as an Atlanta Hawk.

Playing for the 76ers and Lakers, Muscala averaged a collective 20.4 minutes, 7 points and 3.8 rebounds last season.

• Muscala isn’t the only apparent addition, as ESPN’s Royce Young reported late Monday the Thunder had come to terms with Alec Burks, an eight-year veteran swingman, who spent his career in Utah before playing for three teams last season: Utah, Cleveland and Sacramento, averaging a collective 8.8 points and 3.7 rebounds.

Burks is a career 42.3 percent overall shooter and a 35.5 percent shooter from beyond the 3-point arc. His best stretch last season was his 34-game stint in Cleveland in which he averaged 11.6 points and shot 37.8 percent from distance.

• The additions of Noel, Muscala and Burks, presuming each eventually signs, brings the number of Thunder players under NBA contract to 13, the minimum allowed by the league’s collective bargaining agreement with the players.

Teams may have as many as 15 under contract. They are also allowed, but not required, to have as many as two players under two-way contracts that allow players to shuttle between the NBA and G-League.

Currently, Jawun Evans is the Thunder’s only player under a two-way contract.

Summer league

The Thunder announced their summer league roster Monday. It includes two current roster players under NBA contract, Hamidou Diallo and Deonte Burton, as well as OKC's two second-round draft picks from last season, Devon Hall and Kevin Hervey; also Jawun Evans, the only player the Thunder currently have on a two-way contract, and Donte Grantham, who signed a two-way contract with the Thunder in December of last season.

The rest of the roster includes rookies Devin Cannady (Princeton), Khadeem Carrington (Seton Hall), Keith Carter (Valparaiso), Luguentz Dort (Arizona State), Yannis Morin (France) and one-year player Emanuel Terry, who played in three NBA games last season for Phoenix and Miami.

Summer league play begins in Las Vegas on Friday.