Clint Capela

Pacific Notes: Harrell, Kings, Daniels, Temple

The Clippers are 11-4 since the beginning of February, have moved into the eight place spot in the Western Conference, and are only 2.0 games back of fourth place New Orleans and a first-round home playoff series. Part of the improved play for the Clippers has been the emergence of pleasant surprise Montrezl Harrell, reports Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times.

“You just learn more and more about him as you coach him,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. “You never know a guy until you coach a guy. When we got him, we looked at him as an energy guy, a guy that can play defense. That’s what he did everywhere he’s been. And then every practice he gets in, he keeps scoring. And scoring. And then we started thinking, ‘Maybe he can score a little bit.’ He’s been better than that. He’s been great.”

Harrell is averaging a career-high 10.3 points and shooting 63.1% from the field for the Clippers while only playing 16.2 minutes per game, and has improved upon those numbers lately, averaging 17.8 PPG in his last five games.

There is more news out of the Pacific Division:

  • The Kings have officially been eliminated from playoff contention, leading Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee to analyze the team’s plan of attack in free agency this summer. Jones opines that while certain restricted free agents like Aaron Gordon, Rodney Hood, Julius Randle, and Clint Capela may be appealing, their current teams will all but assuredly match any reasonable offers the Kings may put on the table.
  • Despite the season the Suns are battling through, veteran guard Troy Daniels believes that it’s still important to put in the work and stay professional, writes Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic. Daniels also hopes to rub off on some of the younger guys on the team, saying, “It’s hard to stay motivated for games sometimes going through a season like this. (But) I think it’s something these young guys will learn. To survive in this league, even if you’re a lottery pick, you always have to be working on your game, tuning it up.”
  • In another piece for The Sacramento Bee, Jones notes that he doubts a scenario where Garrett Temple leaves the Kings this offseason. Temple, who has an $8MM player option for next season, is unlikely to find more money on the open market, and has become an important locker room voice for a young Sacramento team.

Suns Plan To Be Aggressive In Free Agency

Suns GM Ryan McDonough has been encouraged by his team’s progress and is planning to make a strong push for free agents this summer, writes Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic.

McDonough hopes to use cap space and future assets to upgrade the talent level for next season, saying, “The team is ready.” He cites Devin Booker‘s rise to stardom and the improvement of T.J. Warren, which gives the team a solid foundation.

“There are certain core pieces that are starting to solidify,” McDonough said. “I think we’d be foolish or naïve to wait forever or be overly patient. We’ve been, I think, relatively disciplined with contracts we’ve given out in terms of length and dollars, but yeah, we’re planning on being one of five of six teams with a decent amount of cap space, and we’ll see if we can improve the team.”

The Suns will enter free agency with about $20MM to spend, assuming they don’t re-sign center Alex Len, who will be an unrestricted free agent after the team decided not to extend his rookie contract. More cap room could be created by trading veteran center Tyson Chandler, who is under contract for more than $13.5MM next season, and swingman Jared Dudley, who will make $9.53MM.

Bordow lists several potential targets for the Suns, including restricted free agents Clint Capela, Aaron Gordon, Jusuf Nurkic, Elfrid Payton and Marcus Smart, unrestricted free agents Derrick Favors and Tyreke Evans and potentially unrestricted free agents Nikola Mirotic [team option] and Enes Kanter [player option].

The Suns are also in good shape to make a move on draft night, with the potential for three first-rounders. They have their own pick, which is currently at No. 5 in our Reverse Standings, Milwaukee’s selection from the Eric Bledsoe deal, which conveys between No. 11 and 16 and is now 16th, and Miami’s pick, which is top seven protected and is currently at No. 22.

McDonough likes the depth in this year’s draft, noting that it’s particularly strong at center and point guard, two areas where Phoenix needs help.

“One of the things we’re excited about in this draft is if all the players we expect to declare are in, I think the strength of the draft is where we can use some help, at the one and the five primarily,” he said. “We’re kind of searching for answers long-term at those positions.”

The potential to draft a point guard makes it less likely the Suns will try to acquire Charlotte’s Kemba Walker, who has been linked to Phoenix in trade rumors, Bordow adds. Walker is 27 and has an expiring contract after next season, so he may not fit the Suns’ timeline. The team also is reluctant to make any moves that will reduce its cap space for this summer.

“I think for us to significantly cut into that and take us out of the free-agent market or make us less of a player in free agency, we would have to take a really good player coming back in return that fits with our young core,” McDonough said. “When I say young core, I don’t necessarily mean a guy 20 or 21 years old, but not a guy who’s in their 30s and closer to the end of their career than toward the beginning or the middle.”

Begley’s Latest: Walker, Knicks, Warriors, Capela

The latest article from Ian Begley of ostensibly focuses on the Knicks as they consider their approach to the trade deadline. However, in the process of exploring potential trade partners for New York, Begley also slips in a couple tidbits of interest related to other teams around the NBA. Let’s dive in and round up a few highlights from the piece…

  • If the Hornets move Kemba Walker at the deadline, there’s an expectation that they’ll also look to move other players on long-term contracts, according to Begley, who identifies Jeremy Lamb as one such trade candidate.
  • Speaking of Walker, while the Knicks are viewed as a possible trade partner for the Hornets, Begley says opposing executives have gotten the impression that New York doesn’t want to trade draft picks or take on long-term salary unless it means acquiring a “transformative” player. It’s not clear if Walker qualifies.
  • Opposing execs think the Knicks will deal at least one of their four centers at the deadline. Enes Kanter, Willy Hernangomez, and Kyle O’Quinn have all received interest, with the Warriors among the teams inquiring on O’Quinn, sources tell Begley. League execs believe O’Quinn will turn down his player option for 2018/19 this summer, which may impact his trade value.
  • Members of the Clippers and Rockets discussed the possibility of a DeAndre Jordan deal. However, those talks went nowhere after Clint Capela‘s name came up, since Houston doesn’t want to move Capela, writes Begley.
  • Knicks forwards Courtney Lee and Lance Thomas continue to draw trade interest , but opposing execs have come away with the impression that New York would only move Lee if it results in a “significant” return. According to Begley, Lee has been a strong presence in the Knicks’ locker room, and the club views that sort of veteran as important for building a winning culture.

Southwest Notes: Capela, Leonard, Weber, Simmons

Rockets center Clint Capela has a right orbital fracture and will miss at least the next two games, the team tweets. Capela will be re-evaulated later this week, the tweet adds. Capela suffered the injury during the third quarter of the Rockets’ loss to the Thunder on Christmas Day. He had missed three of the previous four games with a heel injury. Capela, who is averaging 14.2 PPG and 11.2 RPG, will miss Thursday’s matchup against the Celtics and Friday’s game against the Wizards.

In other developments around the Southwest Division:

  • Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard admits he’s still not 100% as he works his way back from a quad injury but the team appears ready to go on a run, according to Michael C. Wright of ESPN. Leonard played 26 minutes in San Antonio’s victory over the Nets on Tuesday. “I don’t feel like I’m there yet,” Leonard told Wright and other reporters. “But I tried to do what I can. It’s really nothing tonight. Just the whole process of going through playing limited minutes, and just seeing how I feel each game.” With Leonard and Tony Parker back from long-term injuries, the Spurs finally have their full roster together. “It’s a good time to get everybody playing, everybody feeling good, get Kawhi and Tony back to their usual selves, back to their rhythm and feeling good,” guard Manu Ginobili told Wright.
  • Briante Weber has played meaningful minutes as a backup point guard with Rockets starter Chris Paul on the mend, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle relays. Paul could return as early as Thursday from an adductor strain. Weber, who is on a two-way contract, played a total of 34 minutes over the last two games, though he only contributed two points and three assists. “It’s a learning process, just trying to figure out what to do to play my game and not take away from what the team has,” Weber told Feigen.
  • Rookie guard Kobi Simmons, another player on a two-way deal, has given the Grizzlies a boost of energy, Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal notes. Simmons has played a total of 51 minutes over the last two games, supplying 12 points, nine rebounds and five assists. “He brings a spark,” interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff told Tillery. “He’s got a natural talent that we’ve got to do a great job of developing. He can help us.”

Market For Clint Capela Difficult To Read

The Rockets and Clint Capela did not come to an agreement on a rookie contract extension, but the two sides had “very introductory” talks before the season, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor reports. As a result, the big man will become a restricted free agent and O’Connor is hearing a wide range of predictions from league executives with regard to his next contract.

Some executives believe Capela will land an annual salary as low as $10MM, in the Kelly Olynyk range, while others are more bullish, believing that Capela could command as much as $20MM per season on his next deal.

External factors may play a role in his price tag. There won’t be many teams with an abundance of cap space and the lottery is expected to be flushed with talented bigs. Both factors could drive his market value down. Regardless, O’Connor believes that it’s unlikely we see a scenario similar to Nerlen Noel’s. Capela is having a strong season, making 69.4% of his attempts and sporting a 27.3 player efficiency rating, and opposing teams are fully aware of his breakout campaign.

Texas Notes: Noel, Curry, Gay, Capela

Once Mavericks center Nerlens Noel recovers from thumb surgery, he may see increased playing time in an attempt to build his trade value, according to Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Noel had fallen out of the rotation before the procedure, which was conducted over the weekend. He is expected to be sidelined three to six weeks.

Noel has played just 18 games and is averaging 12.5 minutes per night as Dallas tries to work out playing time for all its big men. Noel’s salary is a little less than $4.19MM on an expiring contract, and Sefko notes that he won’t provide much cap relief for any team that might trade for him. Jean-Jacques Taylor of The Morning-News suggests that the most the Mavericks can hope for in return is a second-round pick.

There;s more NBA news from the Lone Star State:

  • Mavericks guard Seth Curry, who hasn’t played yet this season because of a stress fracture in his left leg, could be a long way from returning, Sefko writes in a separate story. Curry called it a “couple week by couple week situation” when he talked to reporters before Tuesday’s game. “The path I’m on right now, the MRI shows it’s gotten a little better,” he said. “But there’s a chance [he could need a procedure]. It’s a tricky situation and hard for me to say. It’s very frustrating. Recovery-wise, I get out there and work out and feel OK, and it’ll bother me the next day.” 
  • The offseason signing of Rudy Gay helped the Spurs survive the injury to Kawhi Leonard, notes Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports. Gay is the latest in a long line of veterans who have opted to come to San Antonio even though they could have gotten more money elsewhere. Gay is making slightly more than $8.4MM this year and has a player option worth more than $8.826MM for next season. “It’s a situation where, you have to pay a lot of attention to detail and it’s a winning mentality,” Gay explained. “That’s something I was away from, for so long, you kind of create bad habits. I’ve had to re-teach myself. And I’ve had to continue to do it every day.”
  • Rockets center Clint Capela is putting together his best season as he heads toward restricted free agency next summer, relays Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Capela is averaging career highs in points [13.7] and rebounds [11.0] and leads the NBA in both field goal percentage [.677] and dunks [75], many as the pick-and-roll partner of James Harden“I know exactly when to roll,” Capela said. “I know exactly how to make the big go on James and just get behind the big. I know the details of he goes quick. I just love it. I love it.”

Southwest Notes: Parsons, Capela, Selden

The Grizzlies have a welcomed dilemma on their hands with Chandler Parsons. The forward’s long road to recovery from knee injuries has tainted his tenure with the Memphis franchise but, as Michael Wallace of Grind City Media writes, he’s finding a niche and helping the team win.

I’ve definitely lost some sleep at night, trying to figure out how to put it all together and get the most out of him,” head coach David Fizdale said. “That’s what it’s about – putting him in a situation to help us. So, right now, that’s where the niche has been filled, with him coming off the bench and giving that second unit a big boost.

In nine games with the Grizzlies this season, Parsons – now suiting up at the four – has averaged 7.7 points per game. His ability to connect from beyond the arc to the tune of .484 has made the team’s second unit more dangerous.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Blame team owner Mark Cuban for the current state of the Mavs, Matt Mosley of The Dallas Morning News writes. The team’s decision to go after big fish free agents has left them lacking a core capable of carrying the team to a better record.
  • The Rockets appreciate the asset on their hands in Clint Capela and don’t appear to be afraid of investing in him when he hits free agency. “We’ll have him here as long as he’ll have us,” general manager Daryl Morey tells Tim MacMahon of ESPN. “He couldn’t price himself out.
  • It won’t be long before Wayne Selden makes his season debut for the Grizzlies. As Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal writes, the guard who has dealt with a quad injury will suit up for the team’s G League affiliate in a rehab start tonight.

Clippers Notes: Offseason Moves, Jordan, Redick

When Chris Paul was set to leave the Clippers this offseason, letting Blake Griffin walk as well and bottoming out as part of a rebuild would have been one option for the club, but it wasn’t one that management seriously considered, writes Zach Lowe of ESPN. Without all their future draft picks in hand, the Clippers weren’t well positioned for a rebuild, and the idea went against owner Steve Ballmer‘s philosophy for the franchise.

“You consider all your options,” Ballmer said. “But I don’t want to lose. I like winning. Winning is good. Losing is bad. We think we have a unique opportunity to be a free-agent destination. If you want that, you have to be doing your best every year.”

Lowe’s deep dive into the Clippers includes several more noteworthy tidbits and is worth reading in full. Here are a few of the highlights:

  • DeAndre Jordan‘s future looms large for the Clippers, since he’s eligible for free agency next summer. According to Lowe, Los Angeles has explored trading Jordan, but the only time the team “gained semiserious traction” on anything was at the 2017 deadline. That proposed deal would have sent Jordan to the Rockets in exchange for Clint Capela, players, and picks.
  • The Clippers have discussed a possible contract extension with Jordan, but those talks have stalled for now, says Lowe. Jordan, who is currently negotiating without an agent, remains extension-eligible all the way up until June 30, but would be eligible for a bigger payday if he becomes a free agent next July.
  • Although the Clippers weren’t looking to part ways with Paul this offseason, they embraced the opportunity for a “fresh start” when he decided to leave. Players say the culture wasn’t as toxic as it may have seemed, but Doc Rivers acknowledges – without referring specifically to CP3 – “don’t want to be coached by you anymore.”
  • Rivers suggests that J.J. Redick was “begging to come back” to the Clippers as a free agent, a claim that Redick disputes. “There was never any indication from my agent that I wanted to go back,” Redick said to Lowe. “I didn’t beg to come back. I didn’t want to come back.”
  • Rivers also disputed reports that the Clippers could have traded Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford for Carmelo Anthony earlier this year, calling that idea a “complete joke.” However, Lowe suggests that Rivers may be playing a “game of semantics,” noting that such a package could have been viable if Crawford was sent to a third team instead of New York.

No Extension Expected For Rockets, Clint Capela

Rockets big man Clint Capela is on track to become a restricted free agent in the summer of 2018, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle, who reports that the two sides won’t reach an agreement on an extension today.

Capela, 23, enjoyed the best season of his young career in 2016/17, establishing new career-highs in PPG (12.6), RPG (8.1), FG% (.643), and a handful of other categories. He made 59 starts last season and figures to split minutes at center with Nene in 2017/18.

[RELATED: Extension Candidate: Clint Capela]

Despite Capela’s impressive production, it’s not a huge surprise that the Rockets are willing to go restricted free agency in 2018 with him. Over the last 15 years or so, the team hasn’t generally done rookie scale extensions unless there’s an opportunity to lock up a star — Yao Ming and James Harden were the only players to get rookie scale extensions prior to free agency.

For his part, Capela doesn’t sound too concerned about the possibility of reaching the open market as a restricted free agent next summer. The Rockets will have the opportunity to match any offer sheet he signs at that point.

“Honestly, my agent handles that,” Capela said, per Feigen. “If I sign, that’s good. But it won’t matter. If I have to wait until next year, it won’t bother me. I’m here. I’m healthy. I’m playing. That’s all that matters.”

Extension Rumors: LaVine, Capela, Smart, Randle

Earlier today, Andrew Wiggins became the fourth 2014 first-rounder to reach an agreement on a rookie scale extension with his current team, joining Joel Embiid, Gary Harris, and T.J. Warren. That still leaves 17 players eligible for a rookie scale extension up until the October 16 deadline.

Not all of those players are strong candidates for a new deal. It’s extremely unlikely, for instance, that the Raptors will extend Bruno Caboclo within the next few days, and we shouldn’t bet on Shabazz Napier getting a new long-term deal from Portland. Still, a number of viable candidates remain unsigned.

Here are the latest notes and rumors on some of those extension-eligible players:

  • ESPN’s Kevin Pelton (Insider link) identifies Aaron Gordon (Magic), Elfrid Payton (Magic), Zach LaVine (Bulls), Jusuf Nurkic (Trail Blazers), and Rodney Hood (Jazz) as the most logical candidates for extensions among the group of remaining eligible players.
  • There’s “nothing substantive” so far between LaVine and the Bulls, but that could change by next Monday, TNT’s David Aldridge writes in his rundown of extension candidates at Aldridge – who examines each 2014 first-rounder individually – is also somewhat bullish on the possibility of new deals for Nurkic, Hood, and Rockets big man Clint Capela.
  • Marcus Smart said earlier this week that his agent has yet to hear from the Celtics about a possible extension. Today, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge didn’t exactly offer clarity on the subject, indicating that he has had “talks” about a new contract for Smart, but no “negotiations” (Twitter link via Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald).
  • Julius Randle is extension-eligible, but his future with the Lakers is linked to the team’s pursuit of 2018 free agents, as Bill Oram of The Orange County Register details. Although Randle says his reps have been in touch with the Lakers, an extension this year is an extreme long shot.