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Farewell, My Deer

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Goodbye to a Rockets favorite.

Utah Jazz v Houston Rockets
I’ll miss that.
Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

I loved him from the moment they drafted him.

Well, not quite, but I did LIKE the Clint Capela pick, and there were many who didn’t. The love came shortly thereafter. Here was a kid that nearly every statistical measure adored, but who’d had a bad Nike Hoops Summit. (A great contrarian bet, Nike Hoops Summit performance.) The Rockets drafted him at 1-25.

He wanted to come to the USA immediately, not hang around in Europe for a season. Some didn’t like it for tactical reasons. I applauded. It suggested a kid who didn’t want to tread water, but to compete immediately. To learn to be better than what the French league offered. Learn he did.

He earned the nickname here, and elsewhere, of Baby Deer, as his speed, grace, and explosive leaping reminded us most of a young buck, charging through the forest, challenging all the others, and usually, winning the challenge. Once he learned to dunk nearly everything, few things in the NBA were more automatic than a James Harden lob to Clint Capela.

Clint Capela has been every bit the basketball player his metrics suggested he could be, and then some. Even better, he proved to be an asset to the city of Houston, not just the Rockets. He literally coordinated rescue efforts from his apartment during Hurricane Harvey. He’s been charitable and generous to some of the most vulnerable kids in the city, proof that a difficult childhood can often lead to great kindness.

Now the Baby Deer is a Hawk. It is painful, as he was in some real way the most likeable Rocket, and one of the few homegrown players on the team. I think he will thrive in Atlanta. His eventual arrival should be like Christmas morning to Trae Young’s already gaudy assist numbers.

In performance terms, Clint Capela’s playoff matchups featured the steady domination of players far more highly regarded. He proved just how soft Karl Anthony Towns is, and just how awkward Rudy Gobert could be (even whilst sick with various ailments). Don’t forget, the Denver Nuggets manipulation of playoff seeding, partially so their All Star center could avoid Clint Capela. His series last year against Golden State wasn’t good, but he certainly didn’t look right to me, and frankly, who on the Rockets did have a good series?

I’ll miss him, and like some of my other Rockets favorites of recent years, Carl Landry, Luis Scola, Patrick Beverley, I’ll now follow the Hawks a little, (well, a lot, since previously it was nearly nothing) more than I once did.

Good luck, Clint. I, and I think all Rockets fans, wish you the very best.

It’s not you, it’s them.

Poll

Sad?

This poll is closed

  • 45%
    Yes.
    (242 votes)
  • 37%
    Yes, but excited about the trade.
    (197 votes)
  • 9%
    No. It was time.
    (50 votes)
  • 7%
    Luka is never sad. Only angry. Angry at deer.
    (42 votes)
531 votes total Vote Now