The Houston Rockets, James Harden, and Dwight Howard had a terrible marriage during Superman’s time in Texas. It only compounded as time went on, and Howard left this past summer to return home to his Atlanta Hawks.
As things progressed, General Manager Daryl Morey and owner Leslie Alexander, along with the help of Harden, reportedly hounded coach J.B. Bickerstaff to reduce Howard’s minutes and utilize Clint Capela more in their lineups.
This was all because the team though Howard would flee during free agency, said ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.
Capela’s advancement as an NBA big was the priority over Howard, and the eight-time All-Star asked to be traded mid-season after hearing about the Rockets wanting to slice his minutes. Howard was dangled on the trading block, but no one offered.
At 21-years-old, Houston wanted to showcase Capela more because he fits in with their offense better than Howard. The ball sticks with Harden on every play, and there’s no getting around it. Howard wanted the ball just as much as Harden, but he wanted it in the low post and wasn’t as productive anywhere else.
Capela is more of a pick-and-roll player, and he’s long and athletic, giving Harden the opportunity to throw the ball up toward the basket and let Capela come down with it. Mike D’Antoni‘s high-octane offense needs guys who can run the floor and clean up misses, and Capela is an excellent candidate to be the trailer on the fast break.
Through five preseason games, Capela’s per 36 numbers are mind boggling: 18.4 points and 16.5 rebounds.
That absurd production won’t continue throughout the regular season, but it shows that he’ll produce in Houston’s offense and is, ultimately, the better fit. That isn’t to put down D12, though, as he got the short end of the stick trying to succeed in a system that he wasn’t built for.
Howard declined a player option that would’ve paid him $23.2 million this year. His deal with Atlanta is paying out $70.5 million over the next three years.
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