Clint Capela, once a very raw player that wasn’t counted upon for many minutes on an NBA level, is now one of the better true centers in the NBA.
He is averaging 13.1 points, 11.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game this season in 25.8 minutes while shooting 68% with an out of this world Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 27.1.
He is due for restricted free agency this summer and a huge payday. That doesn’t concern Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey.
Here is what he told Tim MacMahon of ESPN:
“We’ll have him here as long as he’ll have us,” Morey said. “He couldn’t price himself out.”
“The only way [to overcome the Warriors] is to develop near-elite two-way players,” Morey said. “I think Clint has that potential. He’s on the way. He took a big step forward last year. It’s a lot to put on one guy, but we need one more step, at least.”
That is pretty high praise from Morey, but it is well deserved.
Capela is the perfect center to surround Chris Paul and James Harden with his ability as a pick-and-roll finisher and his ability to get up and down the floor and protect the rim.
There is one major concern for the Rockets though, they are already nudging the luxury tax with their longer term deals for Harden, P.J. Tucker, Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon, and they have impending free agencies for Capela, Chris Paul and Trevor Ariza.
Unless they want to break a tax record (something their new owner doesn’t seem too open to), they need to move some of their salary to realistically be able to pay whatever Capela, Paul and Ariza would fetch on the open market.
They will have to utilize some real sweeteners, potentially multiple 1st round picks, to move off of Ryan Anderson and the final two years and $40 million of his contract in the off-season, but they may have no other choice but to make that happen.
For now, they will enjoy the success of their Most Improved Player of the Year candidate in Capela.