OCTOBER 26: The Rockets have officially picked up Capela’s 2017/18 option, according to RealGM.com.
OCTOBER 24: The Rockets will exercise their 2017/18 team option on Clint Capela‘s rookie contract, reports Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). Capela’s fourth-year option is one of three rookie-scale decisions the team has to make before October 31 — Tyler Ennis and Sam Dekker also have ’17/18 options to be picked up or turned down.
Capela, 22, enjoyed a modest breakout season in 2015/16 after playing sparingly in his rookie year. Capela averaged 7.0 PPG, 6.4 RPG, and 1.2 BPG in 19.1 minutes per contest last season, starting 35 of the 77 games he played for Houston.
If Rockets management had their way, Capela would have had an opportunity to play even more in 2015/16. According to Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com, interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff resisted complying with the wishes of GM Daryl Morey and owner Leslie Alexander, who wanted to see Capela receive more minutes at the expense of Dwight Howard.
With Howard and Bickerstaff no longer in Houston, new head coach Mike D’Antoni is presumably on board with the plan to give Capela an expanded role going forward. The young big man, who will earn a guaranteed $2,334,528 salary in 2017/18, will be extension-eligible during the 2017 offseason and eligible for restricted free agency during the 2018 offseason.
In other Rockets news, rookie guard Gary Payton II, who was waived by Houston earlier today, confirmed to Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston (Twitter link) that the team has expressed interest in having him join the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Payton said there are a couple other teams interested in his services, so he’ll talk to his agent to determine his next move — he’s open to the idea of joining the Rockets’ D-League squad, per Berman.