After his fourth season in the NBA, Clint Capela is a restricted free agent and is looking to earn his money whether it’s with the Houston Rockets or elsewhere. Houston already has stars Chris Paul and James Harden under max contracts, so the 24-year-old is going to have a hard time lobbying the Rockets to give him the money that he wants. The Swiss center reportedly wants a contract similar to that of Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams, which is four years worth $100 million. Houston’s initial offer was just four years worth $60 million, which antagonized Capela.
Mike D’Antoni for over a decade has led teams known for their offenses. The Rockets have already let go of defensive-minded forwards Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute. So if they lose Capela, their defense could take a big hit. Capela finished second among all players in blocks with 1.85 per game.
But it isn’t just defense Capela brings to the Rockets. The Swiss center’s usage rate is just 19 percent, but his field goal percentage was a league-high 65.2 percent, making him an ideal complement to ball-dominant guards like Harden and Paul. He doesn’t need the ball to be effective since most of his shots come from short-range layups and dunks fed from Harden and Paul. Capela finished ninth in the league in offensive rating with a mark of 112.5.
The greatness of the Rockets trio (Harden, Paul and Capela) is not just told through advanced stats. Analytics is nice, but what’s most ultimately most important is winning basketball games. The Beard, CP3, and Capela excel at that. When all three were in the starting lineup, the Rockets were 43-3, which is a 76-win pace in an 82-game season.
To give Capela the money he’s looking for, Houston may have to move around some pieces. They could start with Ryan Anderson who makes $20 million a year despite averaging just 1.7 points per game in the playoffs last year. Some give Capela grief for disappearing during the Western Conference Finals, but he averaged 12.7 points and 11.6 rebounds during the playoffs despite only making $2.3 million.
The Rockets have already lost two important supporting pieces in Mbah a Moute and Ariza. And with the Thunder retaining Paul George, the Lakers signing LeBron James, and the Warriors signing DeMarcus Cousins, last year’s number-one seed in the Western Conference could find themselves coming back to Earth next season. Not bringing back Capela could hurt the Rockets even more since he’s one of, if not the best big men on the market right now.
Keeping up with the Warriors is difficult, and the Rockets haven’t made it easier for themselves so far this offseason. And if they let Capela walk because they don’t offer him money, the Rockets could face some serious setback next season.