The Houston Rockets have been without center Clint Capela for over a month. The 24-year-old injured his thumb in a game on January 13 and required surgery.
However, Houston may be close to getting Capela back, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN.
Clint Capela spent the All-Star break in Houston working out and playing 1-on-1 against Rockets reserve center Isaiah Hartenstein. His surgically repaired right thumb passed all tests. “It felt great,” Capela said. “I was really happy about it, so now I’m ready to go.”
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) February 20, 2019
While injured, Capela missed a total of 15 games. In his absence, the Rockets went 9-6. They filled in primarily with veterans Kenneth Faried and Nene Hilario.
Capela's return should be a huge boost for the Rockets. This season, he has averaged 17.6 points, 12.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists, all career-highs. He has shot 63.1% over his 42 starts.
Originally drafted 25th overall in 2014, Capela has spent his whole career so far with Houston. He became the team's starting center during the 2015-16 season. Last July he agreed to a five year, $90 million contract extension. As a result, he will hit free agency following the 2022-23 season.
The Rockets are poised to make the postseason for the seventh straight season. However, they are unlikely to be seeded as well as they have in each of the last two years.
The team is currently 33-24, good for the fifth seed in the Western Conference. They are one game behind the fourth-seed Portland Trail Blazers and eight games behind the conference-leading Golden State Warriors.
According to ESPN's BPI Playoff Odds, Houston has a 98.7% chance to make the playoffs this season. However, the system gives the team only a 1.5% chance of winning the championship. If they want a chance, a healthy Capela alongside MVP candidate James Harden is certainly a place to start.