Do the Houston Rockets need Clint Capela to win a championship?

Houston Rockets Clint Capela James Harden (Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)
Houston Rockets Clint Capela James Harden (Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Houston Rockets are reportedly in trade talks to get rid of Clint Capela but is this the right call?

Heading into the 2019-20 season, the Houston Rockets were rumored to be looking to trade Clint Capela, as they were trying to free up the cap space to land Jimmy Butler. The Rockets were ultimately spurned by Butler, which drew questions of how Capela would respond following the news of the Rockets including him in trade talks.

Capela responded in a major way, as he’s averaging 13.8 rebounds per game, which ranks fourth in the league. On top of that, the 6-foot-11 center has averaged 2.1 defensive win shares, which ranks 22nd in the league. Capela also averages 1.8 blocks per game, which is eighth-best in the league. With the 25-year-old center stepping up his level of play, the Rockets are seeking to trade him, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

This isn’t surprising considering the fact that the Rockets were seeking to trade him in the offseason, not to mention the fact that the Rockets are 9-1 without him this season. On top of that, Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni has recently shown his infatuation with the small-ball lineup, which doesn’t necessarily fit with a 6’11 center.

Wojnarowski reports that the Rockets have been in contact with several Eastern Conference teams regarding Capela, in particular the Atlanta Hawks. We previously listed the Hawks as a potential trade partner, as John Collins has the ability to shoot the trey, which Capela could never dream of doing.

One thing that hasn’t been discussed enough is that the Rockets essentially have to trade Capela if they want to land a top-tier player, due to their cap situation. Capela’s $14.8 million in salary makes him the third-highest paid player on the team, so including him in a trade is essentially a must. Take for example Robert Covington, who the Rockets made known that they were pursuing. Covington’s $11.3 million essentially proved to be too difficult for the Rockets to construct a deal without including Capela or PJ Tucker, who the Rockets lean on far too heavily to trade away.

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At the end of the day, the Rockets have to part with Capela if they’re going to land someone of Covington’s caliber, and Capela is one of the few young assets the Rockets have. On top of that, Capela is having a career year, so his stock would seem to be up right now. The wise move is for the Houston Rockets to capitalize on that, especially considering how his salary presents a considerable buffer.