Clint Capela remains in free agency limbo with Houston Rockets

Clint Capela
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

While most of the free agent market has dried up like a water-soaked sponge sitting in the sweltering heat, big man Clint Capela remains in a free agent limbo with the Houston Rockets, with talks deadlocked over the 24-year-olds supposed asking price of $100 million over the course of four years.

via: Tim McMahon, ESPN

Sources told ESPN that the Rockets’ initial offer to Capela was in the four-year, $60 million range, with the blossoming star center seeking a deal similar to Oklahoma City Thunder big man Steven Adams‘ four-year, $100 million contract.

McMahon first broke the news of Capela and Houston’s contractual stalemate on July 10, and according to a recent interview featuring Rockets GM Daryl Morey, there’s been marginal progress on hammering out a deal in that span of a time.

via: Sean Highkin, USA Today

We can say [the negotiations] are going back-and-forth. I think restricted free agency is pretty difficult. For sure, Clint is going to be a very wealthy guy no matter what happens at the end of all of this. We’re looking forward to getting him back on the Rockets as soon as we can.

Capela is undoubtedly an intrinsic part of what the Rockets are, and what they hope to remain as going forward. He anchored their top-ten defense, posted a career-high in every major statistical category (13.9 points, 10.8 rebounds 1.9 blocks per game to go with a PER of 24.5), and his style of play for a center is congruent with Chris Paul and James Harden, who spoon-feed him easy buckets like a baby out of a Gerber commercial.

Houston took two huge blows defensively by losing starting small forward Trevor Ariza (one-year, $15 million with the Phoenix Suns), and veteran Luc Mbah a Moute (one-year $4.3 million with the Los Angeles Clippers) but replaced that duo with the much-maligned Carmelo Anthony, who is in search of a hard reset after a pretty tumultuous season with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Pairing Harden and Anthony together won’t make Houston the most resistive bunch on defense, which is why re-upping with Capela becomes even more important if they have any hopes of hovering around their defensive rank from last season.

We all know Capela’s impact on defense cannot be understated, but it’s his offensive limitations that make his self-placed price tag bemusing.

There have been moments where Capela has shown flashes of what he’s capable of offensively…

…but for the most part, his scoring opportunities are orchestrated by Harden and Paul, who do a great job of finding Capela out of pick-and-roll situations, whether it be via the lob or with pinpoint pocket passes.

Sift through Capela’s offensive numbers and the metrics corroborate the video evidence: he’s a highly-efficient defensive center that does not extend himself offensively anymore than he has to thanks to having Harden and Paul as his backcourt.

Clint Capela
Clint Capela doesn’t extend himself more than he has to offensively.

*PPP= points per possession

91.3% of Capela’s made field goals this past season came off of one dribble or less, and he touched the ball less than two seconds 84.4% of the time he made a shot, indicative of a player who doesn’t do much heavy-lifting when it comes to scoring, the luxury of being flanked by two elite playmaking guards.

Capela’s case is curious and another example of how exhausting of an affair finding a suitor in restricted free agency can be. There aren’t many suitors left that are willing to cough up the type of cash Capela covets, leaving him in a peculiar place on the free agent front.

Essentially Capela has two choices:

  1. Ink Houston’s qualifying offer for $4.7 million, play out this season with the Rockets and become a restricted free agent next summer, joining a LOADED class that includes Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, and Jimmy Butler just to name a few.
  2. Concede and agree to the Rockets’ original offer, which is well short of the figure he was eyeballing, but nevertheless a healthy sum that locks him in long-term with the reigning MVP and a legitimate shot at an NBA title for the duration of his deal.

Don’t be surprised if this plays out like Tristan Thompson’s restricted free agent affair in 2015, where he and the Cleveland Cavaliers remained at an impasse for the entire summer before quickly agreeing to a five-year, $82 million extension before the start of the season.

Whatever it is Capela decides to do, big money is in his immediate future barring any catostrophic injury. The only question remains is, how close will Capela get to the $100 million he treasures?


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