The Houston Rockets sit 6-3 on the season and have clearly been better than expected. The Rockets rank fifth in defensive efficiency and 10th in offensive efficiency, and would rank much higher, were it not for a clunker against the Orlando Magic on opening day.
The Rockets are currently riding a six-game winning streak, and have secured wins against legitimate contending teams, such as the Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Lakers, and Denver Nuggets. Granted, each of these teams haven't exactly been fully healthy, but neither have the Rockets.
So that's somewhat of a wash.
In spite of the Rockets' early success, there's been a glaring hole on the roster. Well, two glaring holes on the roster.
For starters, the Rockets haven't quite replaced Kevin Porter Jr.'s role as a scorer on the second unit, although that's been patched up with Amen Thompson (when healthy) and Aaron Holiday. So that's not as much of a pressing need.
However, the Rockets' lack of a rim protector has been quite noticeable. Although starting center Alperen Sengun has been drastically better on defense, he's certainly not a defensive presence around the rim.
The Rockets tried to mitigate this by heavily pursuing Brook Lopez in the summer, but....well, you know what happened.
Jock Landale was nabbed as a replacement for Lopez, but his play has been quite forgettable.
However, there's a rim-protecting big man on the market who previously played for the Rockets and would be attainable via trade: Atlanta Hawks center Clint Capela.
Clint Capela drops bombshell about the Houston Rockets
Capela has averaged 9.9 points, 10.7 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, and 56.9 percent from the field this season, proving that he's still capable of being highly effective and playing at a high level
Capela was in a Twitter Spaces and was asked about the possibility and/or interest in a Rockets reunion.
Capela stated, "It's not impossible — in terms of the business and in terms of my past there."
Capela added that he still has fairly good relationships within the organization while noting that the Rockets aren't quite as good as the 2017-18 team that led the league in wins (I think we'd all agree, Clint).
Contractually, Capela is under contract through 2025, and his 2023-24 annual figure is $20.6 million, while his 2024-25 annual number is $22.2 million. To make the salaries work, the Rockets could trade Jock Landale and Victor Oladipo's expiring salaries to the Hawks, and they'd likely be forced to throw in a second-round pick.
Landale couldn't be traded before December 15th, however, as he was signed in free agency. Having Capela as a lob threat on the second unit and defensive anchor around the rim would be much needed, and if Capela is interested in re-joining the team, it should be a no-brainer for the Rockets' brass to add him again.
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