It's a growing theme with NBA second round selections that is likely to become more of a trend in the years to come: drafting and stashing picks overseas who played college ball in the States.
Yes, the "draft and stash" philosophy once practiced by the likes of the Portland Trail Blazers was mainly a development planned used when selecting or acquiring international prospects (examples: Victor Claver, Joel Freeland). But now teams are flipping the script so to speak -- taking kids out of college in the second round, only to place them in Europe while holding on to their rights, and allowing these youngsters the opportunity to grow in competitive leagues overseas.
In 2011, Portland used a page from their "draft and stash" playbook with second round pick Jon Diebler out of Ohio State (51st overall). Instead of watching and learning from the bench or in the D-League, the Blazers retained his rights while shipping him off to play in the Greek League.
"We drafted him because of his shooting and this year in Greece will provide him with an opportunity for good minutes and a chance to develop other areas of his game," explained Portland's then-acting General Manager Chad Buchanan.
Now it's Atlanta's turn to watch from afar as they send a second rounder abroad.
On Wednesday, the Hawks and Mike Muscala mutually agreed it was best for him to play in Europe as opposed to getting lost in the front-court shuffle with the offseason additions of Paul Millsap, Elton Brand, Pero Antic and Gustavo Ayon. So, when Muscala took to Twitter to announced he'd sign to play next season in Spain's famed ACB league with Blusens Monbus Obradoiro, it really didn't come as a shock.
If you are not going to play in the NBA, then you might as well consider yourself fortunate enough to compete in one of the best leagues Europe has to offer. Plus, there is another benefit for Atlanta and any other team planning to go this route: this does not count against the salary cap for the 2013-14 season. Muscala, 6-foot-11, 239 pounds, averaged 5.8 points and 5.2 rebounds in 5 games at the Las Vegas Summer League, but also battled a strained calf muscle but is on track with the rehab process as teams begin to open training in mid-August around Europe.
The Hawks are not the only current NBA team dabbling with the draft and stash idea either. The Philadelphia 76ers have been kicking the idea around with one of their second round picks, Arsalan Kazemi, the power forward out of Oregon.
"He would get a chance to work on his game somewhere else for a year," Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie told the Philadelphia Inquirer. Then [we] would have the opportunity to reassess where he is later. "I think that's an attractive opportunity for someone like him."
While development and overall progress is the hope overseas for both team and player alike, there is also the reality that players can be used as a trade asset at anytime. Diebler had his rights traded to the Houston Rockets, when the Blazers made a three-way deal along with the Boston Celtics last July, and the Rockets then asked Diebler to remain playing abroad. He then signed a two-year with Pinar Karsiyaka in the Turkish league.
The Rockets still hold his rights.
Who knows if this "draft and stash" option with players coming out of college will eventually benefit an NBA team in the long run, as guys like Muscala and Kazemi await their NBA fate much like Diebler.
But this won't stop teams from trying it.