Philadelphia 76ers: Mike Muscala will fit perfectly with LeBron James

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

After initially landing with the Clippers following the Philadelphia 76ers’ trade for Tobias Harris, Mike Muscala looks like a perfect fit alongside LeBron James on the other LA team.

Don’t look now Philadelphia 76ers fans, but the Moose is on the loose!

After being shipped to Los Angeles in the Tobias Harris trade alongside Landry Shamet and Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala was moved yet again at the deadline.

But unlike Nik Stauskas, Muscala didn’t have to travel far, as the two teams actually share an arena.

More from Philadelphia 76ers

That’s right, almost directly after moving his things into the Clippers locker room, Muscala had to pack it up and move down the hall, as he officially was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for Ivica Zubac and Michael Beasley.

Now, this move is a bit surprising, as Zubac was initially assumed to be one of the high-upside prospects Magic Johnson was hoarding for an eventual Anthony Davis trade, but the team’s desire to win now has won out.

Because they didn’t land the biggest fish on the market, the Lakers were able to bolster their roster with ex-Pistons winger Reggie Bullock, and Muscala, while opening up a roster spot to pursue a buyout candidate.

And frankly, the two parties could not be any better paired.

Though Muscala quickly became a fan-favorite in the City of Brotherly Love for his Bucknell roots and chant-able nickname, the Moose was often miscast as a stretch-five in Brett Brown‘s scheme, soaking up about half of his minutes as Joel Embiid‘s backup.

While the team was mostly able to work through these lineups unscathed, it became abundantly clear very quickly that Muscala is not a certified rim protector, as his lack of hops and less than ideal rangey-ness could often be taken advantage of by teams in the paint.

Fortunately for Muscala, the Lakers already have two very good rim protectors in JaVale McGee and Tyson Chandler.

No longer tasked with being a reserve center, Muscala can revert to his correct NBA position, power forward, where his outside shot could help to recapture the three-four magic King James had in Cleveland when paired with Kevin Love.

Now granted, Muscala is hardly the player Love is, and isn’t even as good of a shooter, as he’s only averaging 34.2 percent from deep this season, two percent lower than Love’s worst Cleveland total (36 percent), but he does provide big-bodied shooting on the wings, and for a team like the Lakers, who are the 27th ranked 3-point shooting team in the league, that’s seriously valuable.

Over the last decade, the anatomy of a James-lead team has been more or less the same: load up the roster with cheap shooters at every position, while committing the bulk of the cap space to a few big-time playmakers.

While this isn’t the route Johnson initially settled on when building the roster, instead opting to add auxiliary playmakers across-the-board, the decision to trade for Muscala and Bullock highlights a team pivoting on the fly and accepting the truth we’ve all come to know in relation to LeBron James: surround him with shooters, and you’ll win games.

Next. Nik Stauskas had the weirdest trade deadline ever. dark

Will the Lakers end up in the playoffs? That’ll depend on health and how quickly the new players can assimilate together, but one thing is clear: Mike Muscala may be in the best scheme fit of his career, a thought that seemed impossible when he was initially traded to the Clippers on Wednesday. And hey, swapping out Ben Simmons for LeBron James? That feels like a pretty lateral move to me.