Sources: OKC lets Muscala, Burks rethink deals

ByRoyce Young ESPN logo
Monday, July 8, 2019

For an illustration of how unexpected Paul George's trade request was for the Oklahoma City Thunder, look no further than Mike Muscala and Alec Burks.

The Thunder reached agreements with Muscala and Burks to open free agency last week, but after George's stunning trade to the Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City granted both players the opportunity to re-evaluate their options, league sources told ESPN.

Muscala will remain with the Thunder while Burks is signing with a different team, league sources said.

The Athletic first reported the situation and reports Burks will sign a one-year deal with the Golden State Warriors.

Both Muscala and Burks were part of the Thunder's free-agency plan, with the veteran players added as part of a win-now mindset for OKC. Thunder general manager Sam Presti flew to Minneapolis to recruit Muscala as free agency opened on June 30. Burks was added to bolster OKC's second unit scoring and shooting. The Thunder also re-signed center Nerlens Noel.

But after George's request, the Thunder were prepared to honor the commitments on the agreements while also allowing the players to reconsider their situations. With George traded, the Thunder are changing course, focusing on rebuilding with draft assets and young players. They traded Jerami Grant to the Denver Nuggets on Monday, collecting their sixth first-round draft pick in the past three days.

The Thunder have cut their enormous luxury tax bill considerably since George's trade and need to shave only around $4 million more in salary to get under the tax threshold. They are still evaluating their options going forward with Russell Westbrook, which includes a possible trade as they work with Westbrook and his representatives on an agreeable outcome for the franchise player.

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