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Rumor: Rockets’ trade of Clint Capela was to maximize Russell Westbrook

Clint Capela, Russell Westbrook, Rockets

Russell Westbrook has played better since the Houston Rockets moved to a small-ball lineup, and it appears that’s exactly why Houston moved on from Clint Capela.

The Rockets traded Capela to the Atlanta Hawks in a four-team deal that landed them Robert Covington. According to Tim MacMahon of ESPN, Daryl Morey and Co. pulled the trigger on the Capela deal to maximize Westbrook.

“The whole point of trading Clint Capela was to maximize Russell Westbrook,” MacMahon said on The Hoop Collective Podcast. “Just because having two non-shooters on the floor with James Harden in that system, it was clunky. All the analytics backed up the Rockets’ decision in a small window of this season right now: they were better without Capela off the floor than with him on the floor.

“This was a trade Mike D’Antoni wanted. He wanted to go all-in on small-ball. This was a trade Daryl Morey wanted.”

The Rockets are 33-20 on the season. They are in fifth place in the Western Conference standings, though they currently are on a two-game losing streak.

In his first season with the Rockets, Westbrook is averaging 27.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 7.3 assists. The former MVP is shooting 46.1 percent from the field, 24.0 percent from beyond the arc and 78.6 percent from the free-throw line.

On Sunday against the Utah Jazz, the Rockets started James Harden,  Russell Westbrook, Danuel House, PJ Tucker and newcomer Robert Covington.