The Houston Rockets pulled off one of the bigger deals of this trade season on Tuesday night, trading center Clint Capela to the Atlanta Hawks as part of a four-team, 12-player agreement. In the process, Houston acquired Robert Covington from the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The fact that Houston decided to trade Capela raised a few eyebrows, as it leaves the team without a starting-caliber center. Another interesting fact is that Clint has spent his entire NBA with the Rockets. When he was drafted at No. 25 overall in 20014, he was an up-and-coming prospect, then later worked his way into a starting role.
Despite this, the Rockets feel they are playing better in small-ball formats with PJ Tucker at the 5. In fact, the Rockets went 10-1 in the games that Capela missed this season. Still, Houston could find a serviceable big man to help alleviate some of its workload in the paint, especially in the playoffs, where there will be plenty of talented centers to contend with.
Tuesday’s trade allowed a bit of flexibility for the Rockets, and the team could still expand this trade even more, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Houston could look to add another player or assets now in an effort to further bolster its roster:
The trade leaves the Rockets with a brief window until Thursday's trade deadline to expand this four-team trade to include up to $12M in salary on another player. They could add a player who helps now, take on a player for assets and use those to further upgrade the team, etc.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 5, 2020
Exactly who the Rockets might have their eye on is still up for debate, and it’s worth nothing they could also wait on the buyout market instead of needing a trade.
Some names have been making the rounds as this deadline approaches, including Cavs center tristan thompson, who is in the final year of his contract and is available on the market. According to reports, Cleveland is looking for a first-round pick for the Canadian-born big man. Houston probably can’t hit the Cavs’ asking price in a trade, but Double-T would certainly be worth a look if he hits the buyout market, as he is posting career-high numbers in points and rebounds.
Another interesting name the Rockets should consider is Aron Baynes of the Phoenix Suns. The Suns acquired Baynes from the Celtics back in July. Like Thompson, Baynes is finishing out the final year of his contract, which means Phoenix will have a decision to make before he hits free agency. Interested teams would need to make a solid offer, as the Suns value his services.
Baynes, 33, was promoted to the starting center role in October, just after Deandre Ayton was suspended for 25 games due to diuretic usage. In 33 appearances (25 starts), he has racked up averages of 11.5 points on 49.0 percent shooting from the field (33.0 percent from beyond the arc), 5.8 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 22.9 minutes per outing. Baynes would bring toughness to the center position, and his salary of just over $5 million doesn’t complicate matters.
Names like Alex Len (maybe he could be included in this big trade?) and Dewayne Dedmon are also intriguing, and there are likely others as well as the Rockets work the phones.
The season’s trade deadline is Thursday at 3:00 p.m. ET. Let’s see if the Rockets make a move for a post player between now and then, or if they wait to scour the buyout market afterward.