Clint Capela Rumors: Rockets Plan to Match Any Free-Agent Contract Offer Sheet

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJuly 4, 2018

HOUSTON, TX - MAY 28:  Clint Capela #15 of the Houston Rockets reacts in the first half of Game Seven of the Western Conference Finals of the 2018 NBA Playoffs against the Golden State Warriors at Toyota Center on May 28, 2018 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets intend to retain restricted free-agent center Clint Capela

Sam Amick of USA Today reported Wednesday that the Rockets are "obviously all-in" on Capela and intend to "match any offer sheet that comes his way."

Houston has a clear need at center so long as Capela remains unsigned, but according to Amick, DeMarcus Cousins was never an option to fill that potential void. He noted: "You could argue that Houston should have picked him up just to keep him away from Golden State, but I'm told they had zero interest. Considered a bad fit."

Capela, 24, has proved to be the perfect fit for head coach Mike D'Antoni and his system. The young center checks off two major boxes: He's an excellent rim-runner in the pick-and-roll to finish James Harden lobs, and he's a solid rim protector who anchors the defense.

He took major strides in the 2017-18 season, averaging career highs in points (13.9 PPG), rebounds (10.8 RPG), blocks (1.9 BPG), field-goal percentage (65.2) and free-throw percentage (56.0). 

Capela proved to be Houston's third-most important player, though the loss of forward Trevor Ariza and his defensive versatility to the Phoenix Suns, per Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports, may test that statement this season.

Bringing back Capela won't be cheap. Given the big contracts the team has already handed out to Chris Paul (four years, $160 million), Gerald Green (one year, $2.4 million) and Michael Carter-Williams (one year, $1.8 million), per Bobby Marks of ESPN.com, retaining Capela will thrust the Rockets into the depths of the luxury tax. 

As Marks wrote, "Houston is currently $4.6 million below the luxury tax and will likely pass the $123.7 million threshold once Capela is signed."

If the team is serious about challenging the Golden State Warriors, however, that sacrifice will be necessary. There are ways to trim salary, but the primary one will be convincing another franchise to take on the $41.7 million owed to Ryan Anderson over the next two years. 

The Rockets would likely have to take on assets to dump that contract, however, meaning the stretch provision is another possibility. That would cut down Anderson's immediate cap figure to about $8 million over the next five seasons, granting some respite from salary-cap hell but leaving a decent charge on the books for half a decade. 

It will be interesting to see how the team proceeds in that regard. But however the Rockets approach their luxury-tax bill, Capela will almost assuredly be with them for the foreseeable future.