Daryl Morey is relentless around the trade deadline, and he has an ongoing streak of making a midseason trade every season. This year’s big trade deadline prize, literally, is DeAndre Jordan, but the Rockets are reportedly out of the running.
The Clippers and Rockets held discussions, but they “went nowhere,” according to ESPN’s Ian Begley, because the Clippers asked for Clint Capela in return and the Rockets balked because of their “affinity” for the 23-year-old big man, who will be a restricted free agent this summer.
This is absolutely the right decision. Jordan is second in the league in rebounding, but he’s not the defensive player he once was, which was always a bit overrated thanks to high blocked shot totals (not a full representation of rim protection anyway) and Doc Rivers’ strategic hype.
The news is timely because I wrote about this very transaction in our TDS Tuesday 5-on-5 this week, so I can copy-paste (you should read the whole thing anyway):
Anyone who tells you DeAndre Jordan is an upgrade over Clint Capela hasn’t been watching this season. Capela has a higher field goal percentage after five straight years of DAJ leading the NBA. Capela is scoring 8 more points and blocking 1.3 more shots per 36 minutes than Jordan. They’re tied in win shares, but Capela leads in most other advanced metrics.
And that’s me quoting me! Capela and Jordan will both likely be on the open market this summer, except Capela will be a restricted free agent. He’s improved every year, and his combination of length, athleticism, footwork and hands is elite. Morey has publicly stated Capela could not sign an offer sheet the Rockets wouldn’t match — exactly the kind of thing you would say if you’re trying to scare off other teams from tying up cap space on an offer sheet that won’t come to fruition.
It’s safe to assume Capela is here to stay, and that’s a great thing. He’s improved by leaps and bounds every year, and this should be shouted from the mountaintops: the Rockets are undefeated when all three of him, James Harden and Chris Paul play, including two wins over the Warriors.
Capela’s assist rate is at a career high, over 7 percent, his free throw shooting is over 60 percent, what could be considered the magic number to prevent teams from trying to intentionally foul you. He’s top 10 in the NBA in blocks and rebounds per game, and he’s still averaging just 26 minutes per contest. It’s a career high, and it’s trending up as the season progresses.
The Rockets would be fools to trade Clint Capela for DeAndre Jordan straight up, let alone giving up the amount of salary it would take to match Jordan’s contract. Not only that, but they’d be fools to let a young center of his caliber walk. He’s the perfect player for his role. He should be in Houston for a long time.