Mike Muscala is about to become a free agent after reaching an agreement with the Detroit Pistons on a buyout. Few destinations for a new team make as much sense as the Philadelphia 76ers.

With Joel Embiid still on the mend, the 76ers need another option at center outside of Paul Reed and Mo Bamba. Each big man has strengths but also significant weaknesses that make them very inconsistent from game to game. Nico Batum, a 6-foot-8, 35-year-old forward, has been used often at center, as has 6-foot-6 forward K.J. Martin and 6-foot-8 starting forward Tobias Harris. Reed and Bamba often have far too many instances where they are a detriment to the team's rotation.

The 76ers maintain hope that Embiid will return at some point this season. However, it won’t happen soon enough for the team to stick with what it has right now. The front office opened up three roster spots at the trade deadline so that it could sign guys out of the buyout market. Kyle Lowry has already filled one and Muscala would be a good choice to fill the next one.

Mike Muscala played for the 76ers during the first half of the 2018-19 season. The 6-foot-10 product of Bucknell, a college just a few hours northwest of Philadelphia, was involved in the trade that brought Harris to the 76ers. In his 47 games as a Sixer, he averaged 7.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 22.1 minutes per game. Over 70 percent of his field goals were three-point attempts, of which he made 34.2 percent.

As another backup option, Muscala offers himself as a nice change of pace from Reed and Bamba. Especially when they have bad games, he is simply a guy with legitimate size and skill along with plenty of NBA experience.

While Bamba has the capability to shoot threes, Muscala shoots them at a much higher rate and can let them fly from anywhere around the arc. His jumper is much more fluid and features a quicker release, leading to a career three-point percentage of 37.6 percent. Although his shooting at the rim is pretty bad and such a shortcoming can be extra problematic for a center, his shooting from deep is so legit that it makes up for it. His offensive rebounding rates are quite promising, too.

Defensively, Muscala isn’t all that exciting. He's not super quick or adept at block shots. But he can at least get by and try to make use of his large frame and 7-foot-1 wingspan. He could allow Nick Nurse to play two-big lineups with him and Reed, giving the 76ers more muscle on defense and on the boards without sacrificing spacing on the other end. Lineups with Muscala as the lone center have the potential to be a boon for ball-handlers looking to attack the paint. They would also help the Sixers shoot more threes, a pressing issue the team has yet to fix.

Mike Muscala joining the 76ers would also make the franchise's most extraordinary stroke of luck come full circle. The guy who helped bring Tyrese Maxey to Philly teaming up with Maxey would bring some much-needed joy to a team mired in futility without its best player.

The full story of Maxey's road to Philadelphia begins deep into the years of The Process. It started when the 76ers made a trade with the Sacramento Kings in the summer of 2015. The deal featured numerous players, picks and a right to swap first-round picks for the 2017 draft. That swap gave the Sixers the third overall pick instead of the fifth, which made it easier to trade up to the top overall pick in a deal with the Boston Celtics.

The 76ers selected Washington standout Markelle Fultz, the gem of that year's draft class. But he wasn’t able to reach his star potential in Philly and was traded to the rebuilding Orlando Magic at the 2019 trade deadline. The biggest part of the return for the Sixers was a top-20 protected pick in the 2020 draft that originally belonged to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Now comes the part of the story that stands apart as iconic 76ers lore. In the second-to-last game of the Thunder's 2019-20 regular season, Muscala hit two threes, one with 35.0 seconds left in the game and another with just 5.2 left, to complete a come-from-behind victory over the Miami Heat.

OKC led for just 40 seconds of that game in The Bubble. But holding the advantage at the final buzzer meant that the Thunder's draft pick would be the 21st overall. The 76ers went on to pick a wildly skilled guard out of the University of Kentucky who would become an All-Star in just his fourth NBA season. Maxey knows that Muscala gave the 76ers the pick that they used on him and he's very appreciative of it.

Embiid refusing to succumb to the monumental stress he faced early in his career and developing into arguably the NBA's best player is the most incredible, awe-inspiring development in recent 76ers memory. Second only to that are Muscala's heroics, which did nothing but disadvantage his at-the-time team and allow Philly to draft a franchise cornerstone.

Mike Muscala already has a place in the hearts of the 76ers and their fans. Now, they could really use his shooting abilities on their team.

The options are slim for backup big men in the buyout market right now. Other former Sixers Nerlens Noel and Tony Bradley could provide some size and interior defense, as could Harry Giles. Wenyen Gabriel is smaller for a center but can defend and rebound well. Muscala, however, has the advantage of being an actual rotation player this season.

Sure, Muscala's playing time has come for the two worst teams in the entire league (the Washington Wizards and Pistons). But he has spent legitimate time in the NBA this season, which isn’t always the case for mid-season signings. He has one high-level skill that will make him useful every time he steps on the court.

Since Muscala's contract is below the value of the mid-level exception, any team can sign him with an open roster spot. The Thunder, ironically, could pursue him, as they need some more size. The Phoenix Suns and Indiana Pacers each have an open spot. Given the aforementioned struggles of its current centers, Muscala's path to playing time looks the clearest in Philly.

Is Mike Muscala going to make the Embiid-less 76ers significantly better? Very likely not. Will he play in the playoffs? Highly doubtful. But with Philly's need for another center and an emotional pick-me-up, Muscala becoming a Sixer again makes a ton of sense for both sides.