Why the Houston Rockets made a huge mistake trading Clint Capela


late Tuesday night, the Houston Rockets were involved in a four team trade which would result in them giving up starting Center Clint Capela along with Nenê Hilario and a future first round pick to the struggling Atlanta Hawks. Although the Rockets received Robert Covington, Jordan Bell and a second round pick, the trade struck many fans as down right dumb. The Rockets have chosen to now run a “small-ball” lineup in which 6’5 PJ Tucker will run the five in a lineup with an average height of only 6’4. The Rockets don’t seem to be concerned with an obvious rebounding disadvantage, but many fans are skeptical about Daryl Morey’s decision.

John Amis, Associated Press

The Houston Rockets have looked rather flustered recently, losing 9 of their last 20. James Harden has looked nothing short of disappointing, especially in the new year. He has been shooting extremely inefficiently, and in addition has had a huge scoring drop off. Russell Westbrook has looked great recently, but the whole season has struggled to find his groove in the Rockets offense.


Clint Capela has been the least of the Rockets concerns. This season averaging 13.9 points, 13.8 rebounds, along with 1.8 blocks, Capela has been the Rockets X-factor on both sides of the ball. He has been holding it down as the sole rebounder on the offensive end, as well as the only rim protector on the defensive end. With the Houston Rockets already running a typically small lineup, they have decided to go even smaller trading away the 6’10 Center and will instead plug 6’5 power forward PJ Tucker down low.

Patrik Giardino | (Styled By Paige Geran)

The Houston Rockets have been a consistently good rebounding team this season, averaging 46.3 rebounds per game as a team ,which is good for 6th place in the league. That is going to change, though, as their Center is now 6’5.

Why was this a bad trade?

Besides the fact that the Rockets gave up their only legitimate starting caliber 5, and that they are the smallest starting lineup in the league as of now, they gave up a little more than they ought to.

Not only did the Houston Rockets send off their near all-star caliber Center, but they sent away future assets along with valuable bench pieces as well.

Despite losing a valuable piece in Clint Capela, the Rockets managed to get some value despite all the negatives. In return the Rockets receive Robert Covington, Jordan Bell (traded) , as well as a 2024 2nd round pick from the Golden State Warriors.

Along with the positive of gaining some decent value in return, the Rockets have far more negatives than positives. Some may say running a small-ball lineup gives the Rockets an advantage in terms of pace, but it’s not something that’s going to help them out in the playoffs, but will rather lose them games and potentially a series.

Gary A. Vasquez, USA Today Sports

With a win over the Los Angeles Lakers last night, some fans are now convinced that the Rockets have now somewhat an advantage due to their ability to push the ball in transition and outrun teams, but we will have to wait until the playoffs.

With an average height of 6’4, along with PJ Tucker running the 5, it appears to be a system bound to fail in the post-season. If the Rockets come up against a team with an established big like the Nuggets, Jazz or Thunder in the playoffs, they could be in deep trouble due to the size disadvantage.


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