Clint Capela is reportedly available.
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Houston Rockets are "actively discussing" trade scenarios involving the 25-year-old centre ahead of the Feb. 6 trade deadline. Wojnarowski adds that the Rockets are looking to gather draft assets in return in the hopes of acquiring a "impact wing player."
ESPN story on Houston's serious engagement in trade talks centered on Clint Capela. https://t.co/jLahRmpICu- Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 3, 2020
Capela hasn't come particularly close to making an All-Star or All-NBA team in his NBA career, but he's still one of the better starting centres in the league. He plays his role to perfection, shining as a finisher on rolls and cuts while providing some rim protection and switchability on the other end of the court.
It's resulted in Capela averaging a double-double in three straight seasons, as well as almost two blocks per game. The only other players in the league to post those numbers in each of the last three seasons are Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond, Rudy Gobert, Myles Turner and Hassan Whiteside.
So why would the Rockets be looking to trade him? Even though they've had a surprising amount of success without him this season, he's Houston's best trade asset - James Harden and Russell Westbrook aren't going anywhere and Eric Gordon can't be traded until the offseason - making him their best hope of upgrading their roster this season.
With that in mind, here are some teams that make sense for Capela.
The Raptors are a fascinating option in the Capela sweepstakes.
Though they already have to starting level centres in Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka, it remains to be seen if the two of them are still on the team beyond this season because they're both going to be unrestricted free agents in the offseason.
If the Raptors are willing to part ways with even one of them at the trade deadline, Capela becomes a possibility.
While Capela is neither the passer Gasol is nor the scorer Ibaka is, he still has the potential to fit in well with Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam as an elite finisher in the paint and a versatile defender. He wouldn't step on anyone's toes either, as his usage rate this season (15.9 percent) is significantly lower than Ibaka's (24.4 percent) and only slightly higher than Gasol's (12.7 percent).
What would be particularly appealing to the Raptors about Capela is his contract. Whereas Gasol and Ibaka are both making around $25 million this season, Capela is making only $16.5 million. He'll then make $17.5 million in 2020-21, $18.5 million in 2021-22 and $19.6 million in 2022-23.
That would eat into their cap space for 2021 when the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Victor Oladipo and Jrue Holiday are set to be free agents, but trading for Capela would give them their centre of the future on a team-friendly contract.
The draw for the Rockets is that they'd be able to get a centre in return for Capela and potentially a wing. The fact that Gasol and Ibaka are both making around $10 million more than Capela this season makes it difficult to match salaries because multiple players would have to be involved, but it's not impossible to come up with a deal that benefits both sides.
The Hawks have made it clear that they're interested in trading for a centre by reportedly talking to the Detroit Pistons about Andre Drummond, the Oklahoma City Thunder about Steven Adams and now the Rockets about Capela.
There are a lot of similarities between the three of them, but Capela is younger and on a cheaper contract than both Drummond and Adams. That makes him a better option for the Hawks moving forward - in my opinion, at least - as they're a team built around a 21-year-old in Trae Young.
Capela would complement Young well for the same reasons he's complemented Harden well in Houston - he's a huge target, an excellent finisher in the paint and a lob threat. The two would be hard to stop in pick-and-rolls, especially with three shooters surrounding them.
More importantly, Capela would help a Hawks team that currently ranks 28th in the league in defensive efficiency. He alone might not be able to completely turn them around, but he's a significant upgrade over what they currently have at the centre position.
It wouldn't be difficult for the Hawks to absorb Capela's contract. The question is, do they have anything they can offer the Rockets to make a trade worthwhile? If they're willing to part ways with John Collins, the answer to that question becomes yes. He's not the defender Capela is, but Collins would be able to fill a similar role as Capela in Houston's offence while also providing some outside shooting.
Capela alongside Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis?
It would be one thing if Porzingis was a full-time centre, but the Mavericks have been playing a centre next to him in the frontcourt all season long, alternating between Dwight Powell and Maxi Kleber.
Powell, however, recently went down with a season-ending Achilles injury. The Mavericks traded for Willie Cauley-Stein to be his replacement, and Capela does a lot of the same things Cauley-Stein does, only at a higher level. He'd be a perfect fit with Doncic as a pick-and-roll partner and the combination of him and Porzingis would make for quite the defensive duo.
Whether or not the Mavericks have the assets to trade for Capela is another story. Since Doncic and Porzingis are off the table, their best bet at acquiring him is by combining at least two of Tim Hardaway Jr., Delon Wright, Seth Curry and Dorian Finney-Smith. (Kleber makes a lot of sense for the Rockets, but I doubt the Mavericks would give him up following Powell's injury).
Would the Rockets be interested in any combination of those players? I don't know. But it sure is fun to think of Capela catching lobs from Doncic while Porzingis spaces the floor.
If you read my trade destinations for Andre Drummond and Dewayne Dedmon, you know why the Celtics might make a call about Capela and Boston is reportedly one of the teams "engaged" in talks with the Rockets to acquire the centre.
In short: the Celtics have been one of the best teams in the league this season, but if there's anything holding them back from being a true contender, it's that they don't have an answer to Philadelphia 76ers centre Joel Embiid.
That's not to say Capela is an Embiid stopper, but he would give them much more size against Embiid, as well as any other centre they might face in the playoffs.
Once again, it's probably safe to assume Boston wouldn't want to part ways with Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown, making Marcus Smart the player they might have to give up to acquire Capela. Smart for Capela works in a one-for-one swap, but would the Celtics and Rockets sign off on that deal?
LA Clippers - I'm not sure the Rockets would trade Capela to a team in the same conference as them that has a chance of winning it all this season, but the thought of Capela next to Kawhi Leonard and Paul George is scary.
Sacramento Kings - There are three players on the Kings who might intrigue the Rockets because of how they'd fit in Mike D'Antoni's system: Dewayne Dedmon, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Nemanja Bjelica. Capela makes sense for the Kings because of how he fits with their young core of De'Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield.
San Antonio Spurs - Capela for LaMarcus Aldridge is fun to think about, but it's nearly impossible to come up for a trade involving those two because Aldridge is making $26.0 million this season.
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