Report: Rockets won’t extend Clint Capela’s contract

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Playing with James Harden and Chris Paul, Clint Capela is in line for a breakout season. The Rockets’ young center will be a primary lob target for the point guards, and Capela’s interior defense and rebounding will cover for the skilled players behind him.

But Capela’s big payday must wait.

Today is the deadline for rookie-scale contract extension, and Capela reportedly won’t get one.

Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

Rockets center Clint Capela will become a restricted free agent next off-season, a person with knowledge of the Rockets’ plans said.

The Rockets risk Capela improving his stock and earning more money than he would’ve gotten now, but they gain flexibility.

Capela will count just $7,003,585 against the cap next summer until signed or renounced. If he signed an extension, he would’ve immediately counted at his 2017-18 salary, which surely would’ve been higher. This way, Houston can conduct its other business then exceed the salary cap to re-sign Capela using his Bird Rights.

This is also a hedge with new owner Tilman Fertitta’s luxury-tax reluctance. Three Rockets starters will be free agents next summer – Paul, Trevor Ariza and Clint Capela. Re-signing all three could be quite costly, but without Capela locked in, letting him walk in order to keep other players is at least on the table.

And, of course, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony can all become free agents next summer. With Paul already in Houston, this also facilitates the the tantalizing possibility of a banana-boat reunion there.

Warriors pose for photos with Jahlil Okafor’s dad’s ‘FREE JAH’ shirt

AP Photo/Chris Szagola
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Jahlil Okafor‘s father has not been shy about speaking out on his son’s behalf. NBA players are advocating for the 76ers to grant Okafor, who’s out of the rotation and on an expiring contract, his desired trade or buyout.

When both join forces…

Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Stephen Curry appear to really enjoy Chukwudi Okafor’s shirt. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily calling on Philadelphia to do anything. But they hadn’t to know how it’d be perceived.

It’s easy to predict free agents will avoid the 76ers as a result of the Okafor situation, but few anticipate getting stuck similarly. Players overwhelmingly value money, winning, role and location. If Golden State’s stars are applying any external pressure, it shouldn’t really move Philadelphia more than anything that has already been said and done.

A couple of Lonzo Ball’s triple-double assists look dubious (video)

Harry How/Getty Images
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Lonzo Ball draws outsized attention because his father, LaVar Ball, lures onlookers and because the rookie plays for the high-profile Los Angeles Lakers.

So, when Lonzo gets a triple-double – like his 11-points, 16-rebound, 11-assists game against the Nuggets yesterday – it draws scrutiny.

Mo Dakhil of The Jump Ball:

The NBA defines an assist as a “pass that directly leads to a basket. … An assist can be awarded for a basket scored after the ball has been dribbled if the player’s pass led to the field goal being made.”

I wouldn’t describe either of those passing as leading directly to a basket. Ball’s teammates each hold the ball for a moment after receiving the pass then take two dribbles against set defenses.

But assists are subjective, and the Lakers aren’t alone in offering a home-court scorekeeping advantage.

Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice

So, criticize/laugh at the Lakers. But your favorite team probably manipulates assists in its favor, too.

Robin Lopez and T.J. Warren exchange contact, heated words (video)

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Robin Lopez whacked T.J. Warren in the head while chasing an offensive rebound. Warren didn’t like that, so he ran to the opposite end of the court and shoved Lopez to the floor. A heated confrontation ensued, though it didn’t escalate beyond yelling.

Warren received a flagrant foul, and Lopez was hit with a technical in the Suns’ 113-105 win over the Bulls.

Lakers blow 5-on-1 fastbreak (video)

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Corey Brewer is better at finishing fastbreaks than leading them.

Nice defense by Emmanuel Mudiay, too.

But at least the Lakers won.