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Injury-hit Hawks sign forward/center Muscala

(Reuters) - The injury-hit Atlanta Hawks have signed forward/center Mike Muscala to a contract, the National Basketball Association club's general manager Danny Ferry announced on Thursday.

Muscala played this season in Spain, averaging 14.6 points on .546 shooting and a league-leading 7.8 rebounds for the Rio Natura Monbus of the ACB League before the Hawks bought out his Spanish League contract.

The NBA rights to the 6-foot-11 Muscala, who shot 87 percent from the free throw line, were acquired by Atlanta last year from the Dallas Mavericks, who selected him in the second round of the NBA Draft out of Bucknell.

Hampered by a string of injuries that left them undermanned at center, the (26-31) Hawks have lost 10 of 11 games to drop from third to eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings.

All-Star center Al Horford was lost to season-ending surgery for a torn right pectoral muscle in December and replacement Pero Antic missed 16 games with a stress fracture in his right ankle.

Antic's replacement, Gustavo Ayon, has missed five games with a right shoulder injury.

"We've closely monitored Mike and his progress throughout the ACB season," Ferry said in a statement.

"Due to our current injuries, Mike's representatives presented the concept of Mike joining us for the remainder of the season. With our roster situation and his strong play, we felt now was a good time to add Mike to our program."

The Hawks released center Dexter Pittman, who signed a 10-day contract on Saturday, to make room for Muscala.

(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)

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