Should the San Antonio Spurs trade for Clint Capela?
By Andrew Ites
The Houston Rockets have reportedly been shopping Clint Capela in the trade market lately. Should the San Antonio Spurs make a move for the young big man?
The San Antonio Spurs don’t have a ton of financial flexibility to make a big move in free agency this offseason, but they could make a blockbuster trade like they did last summer to shake up their roster.
A potential trade partner could be the Houston Rockets, who are reportedly putting everything on the table this offseason with the likely exlusion of James Harden according to Woj.
Marc Stein added that the Rockets have already been gauging the market for Clint Capela before the offseason has really even begun.
This is not a shocking revelation considering Houston general manager Daryl Morey has never been afraid to rock the boat with a big move if he believes it will make their team better.
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With Clint Capela just finishing the first season of a five-year, $90 million contract, it makes sense that Morey would be trying to move the Swiss center if he doesn’t see him as an essential piece of the Rockets’ future.
The sentiment among NBA media is that Capela fell off a bit this season, but he put up career-highs in points per game (16.6) and rebounds (12.7), and his field goal percentage numbers only dipped about 4 percentage points from his league-leading 65.2% in 2017-18.
His defensive numbers did slip a bit as he blocked 0.4 fewer shots per game despite an increase in minutes, and he fell from 10th among centers in defensive real plus-minus in 2017-18 to 26th at the position last season.
Those defensive deficiencies could be explained by Capela coming back from a midseason thumb injury and not having the same level of defensive talent around him that they had in 2017-18 where the Rockets were one game away from taking down the Warriors.
If the Spurs are interested in adding a big man with Capela’s upside, they may have to get creative in making the salaries match in a trade.
With Daryl Morey’s disdain for midrange scorers, he probably wouldn’t be interested in DeMar DeRozan or LaMarcus Aldridge.
San Antonio could throw in Patty Mills’ $12 million per year salary to help balance things out, but they’d have to give up some draft capital and one of their promising young players to get Houston to take on Mills’ contract.
The Spurs also already have a big man with a similar skillset to Capela’s in Jakob Poeltl. While his rookie contract is set to expire next summer, San Antonio could likely re-sign him to a much more affordable deal than what the Rockets are currently paying Clint Capela.
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It would be intriguing to see how Capela could grow alongside the Spurs’ core of young players, trading for him simply doesn’t make much sense for this organization.