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Rockets to make qualifying offer to Clint Capela

Step number one in the big man’s return to Houston is complete.

NBA: Playoffs-Golden State Warriors at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

With the Saturday deadline to tender restricted free agents fast approaching, the Houston Chronicle is reporting that the Houston Rockets will be making their qualifying offer to center Clint Capela. The offer is expected to be $3.4 million.

Once Capela is officially tendered, which is fully expected today or tomorrow, he can take offers from other teams starting at 11pm CST on Saturday, though the Rockets will have the right to match any offer he receives.

After a breakout year and an even better postseason in which he thoroughly outplayed both Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert, Capela is expected to be highly coveted despite his restricted status.

The 24-year-old finished the year with career highs in points per game (13.9), rebounds (10.8), blocked shots (1.9) and field goal percentage (65.2 percent, also an NBA high), and likely has some more developing yet to do. Any potential suitor is getting loads of upside along with current production.

As such, several teams have already been linked to Capela. Earlier in May, the Phoenix Suns were reported to be in love with the Swiss big man, though they did just draft Deandre Ayton, so it’s unknown how much of that interest remains.

The Dallas Mavericks are also thought to be interested. They’re also hot after Deandre Jordan, though a chance to stick it to their cross-state rivals may end up being too juicy for Mark Cuban to pass on. For now, it appears that Jordan is their option 1A, but don’t expect Capela to be much further down than their 1B option should a move for Jordan fail to materialize.

The Brooklyn Nets are also rumored to be interested. They’re negotiating a buyout of the recently acquired Dwight Howard, so there is an opening there.

And the Los Angeles Lakers have also been tied to Capela on occasion for no other reason than they have a boatload of cash to spend and the Lakers are always linked to anyone good.

The most likely scenario absolutely is Capela returning to the Rockets. Team management has said all year long how much they want Capela back, and all indications are that he wants to be back. That isn’t to say some team out there isn’t about to make Houston’s life difficult.

Anyway, the first step in securing Capela’s future is out of the way. The rest will starting unfolding late Saturday night.