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Clint Capela back in trade rumors

Capela’s name keeps popping up in Rockets trade rumors.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Washington Wizards Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Clint Capela was involved in some trade rumors this past offseason. He was coming off of a disappointing postseason in which he averaged just 9.7 point per game and was, at times, practically unplayable against the Golden State Warriors. Not exactly what the Rockets were hoping for when they signed Capela to a five-year, $90 million deal in the summer of 2018.

Daryl Morey has said several times that they expect Clint to continue to grow, and not only did the big man fail to take the next step up from good, he seemed to have plateaued.

Despite reportedly engaging with several teams in trade talks, Capela stayed, and the Rockets instead moved Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook, giving Clint another pick-and-roll option.

Well, we’re just four games into the new campaign, and we’re already hearing Capela’s name bandied about as a possible trade piece this season for Houston. According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst:

Another center executives are watching is Clint Capela, who was dangled in trade talks early last summer but got pulled back when the Houston Rockets went all-in on a Russell Westbrook deal. If the Rockets need midseason changes, and they almost always itch for them, Capela could be available again.

It’s worth noting that this paragraph was attached to the write-up on the Boston Celtics, who were one of the teams reportedly interested in Capela in the offseason. It’s also important to mention that two of the names originally linked in those talks with the Celtics were Al Horford, who is now with the Philadelphia 76ers, and Jaylen Brown, who just signed a massive extension with Boston a few weeks ago.

The Rockets also don’t have another center on the roster capable of picking up the minutes that would be vacated in any Capela trade. Tyson Chandler and Nene are only fit for spot duty, while Mike D’Antoni obviously doesn’t trust Isaiah Hartenstein. If he can’t get on the court right now, they’re certainly not going to just hand him the starting job.

Houston will likely have to receive a starting-caliber center in return, and I’m not sure how many of those are available out there. Steven Adams is said to be on the block for Oklahoma City, but I’m not so sure that’s an upgrade.

He’s a fine player, and an entertaining guy, but he’s not the shot blocker that Capela is, nor the threat off of the pick-and-roll. He’s also averaged double-digit boards just once in his career and is also a year older than Clint. I just don’t see how that’s a net positive for Houston unless the deal balloons in multiple pieces. The Rockets have long been interested in Danilo Gallinari, but now we’re getting into a really difficult salary match up situation, especially with Eric Gordon’s recent extension keeping him in H-town at least through this year.

Anyway, we all know that the Rockets are almost always looking to deal, so even though it’s pretty early yet, this is something to keep an eye on as we move through the season.