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Rumor: Significant distance between Rockets and Clint Capela on valuation, new contract

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The Houston Rockets decided to re-sign Chris Paul to a max deal this summer. Meanwhile, Clint Capela still does not have a contract.

One of the most important players on the Rockets roster the past couple of seasons along with James Harden, Capela is looking for a new deal that would presumably make him the third-highest paid player on the roster. However, Capela and the team have not come together on a deal just yet, and rumors are swirling about some serious distance between the two.

According to Rockets Wire’s Kelly Iko, Capela’s camp and the Houston front office have a big enough difference in variation that it has slowed down talks for a new contract.

Via Rockets Wire:

Rudy Gobert and Steven Adams, two centers who, like Capela, are represented by Wasserman, secured tidy extensions on annual salaries of around $24 million. Capela values himself somewhere in that range, more than the four-year, $80 million offer sheet the Sacramento Kings signed restricted free agent guard Zach LaVine to, which Chicago immediately matched. Both sources said Capela was offered something similar to the four-year, $53 million deal that restricted free agent center Jusuf Nurkic agreed signed to stay in Portland.

That’s a hefty sum for Capela, who is in excellent defender and pick-and-roll player, but who doesn’t have a lot of suitors during the summer of 2018 given the cap situation of many franchises.

It’s an inopportune time for many players to come up for their big extensions, and next season in 2019 will be much more fruitful for players inking new deals.

In the meantime, Houston can wait out Capela and see if he will budge on his number moving forward. The Dallas Mavericks were one of the last teams with significant free cap space that would have liked to sign a center, and they inked DeAndre Jordan to a deal earlier in the week.

It’s possible that Capela could take his qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent next summer. However, that comes with significant risk given injury concern and projected market need. It still makes more sense for the two sides to come to an agreement, but for now we are still waiting.

Do you have a question about the NBA you need answered? Our PBT Mailbag publishes on Wednesdays, so send your question to have it answered by our team of NBA experts. E-mail us at: pbtmailbag@gmail.com.

Knicks say they scouted Giannis Antetokounmpo in Greece

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Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s agent, Giorgos Panou, said the Knicks were the only team not to scout Antetokounmpo in Greece before the 2013 NBA draft.

Ian Begley of ESPN:

If the Knicks indeed scouted Antetokounmpo that thoroughly, it’s a shame they were smeared for not doing so.

Milwaukee took Antetokounmpo No. 13. New York had the No. 24 pick and kept it to draft Tim Hardaway Jr.

Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma scores 35, wins MVP, leads USA to victory in Rising Stars dunkfest

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CHARLOTTE — Nobody comes to the Friday night Rising Stars Challenge — the All-Star weekend showcase of first- and second-year stars — for the defense. Which is good, because there isn’t any. Zero. Nada. Your Saturday blacktop pickup game at the local park has guys that care more about defense than you see in this game.

What the Rising Stars has are dunks. A lot of big dunks. And some threes. Then more dunks.

For example, the Hawks’ John Collins was showing off why he was in the dunk contest, complete with a pass off the backboard to himself.

As for the game itself, the USA won 161-144 over the World.

The Lakers Kyle Kuzma raced out to 23 first-half points and finished with 35 to earn MVP honors.

“Last year I didn’t really play that hard,” Kuzma said of his first time in this game. “This year I just came out, one, I wanted to get some conditioning, and, two, why not MVP? You’re in the game. So might as well just try.”

Kuzma also broke out the windmill.

D’Aaron Fox said before the game he wanted to break the assist record for the Rising Stars, and while he fell short of that number he had 16 for the USA. Boston’s Jayson Tatum had 30 and Donovan Mitchell had 20 for the USA. Ben Simmons led the Word team of 28 points.

As for highlights, there were plenty.

Atlanta’s Trae Young hit six threes and had this dime.

He also had the play of the night, nutmegging Deandre Ayton.

Philly’s Ben Simmons had a couple of throwdowns.

The Timberwolves Josh Okogie had the putback of the night (teammate and All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns sat courtside wearing an Okogie jersey).

Hawks’ John Collins passes to self off backboard for dunk in Rising Stars

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CHARLOTTE — The NBA’s Rising Stars Challenge — the Friday night showcase of first- and second-year players during All-Star Weekend — has less defense than your lunch run pickup game at the Y. Even less than the All-Star Game itself.

Which leads to some monster dunks.

Enter Atlanta’s second-year big man John Collins, playing for the USA (vs. The World), who went off the backboard to himself for the best throwdown of the game.

That wasn’t Collins’ only quality dunk in this game.

He looks ready for Saturday’s Dunk Contest.

Report: Nuggets extend president Tim Connelly’s contract

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On the same day the Pelicans fired general manager Dell Demps, the Nuggets extended the contract of president Tim Connelly, who went to Denver from New Orleans.

Nuggets release:

Nuggets President and Governor Josh Kroenke announced today that the Nuggets have extended the contracts of President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly and General Manager Arturas Karnisovas as well and also provided multi-year extensions for the entire basketball operations staff.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

I don’t know whether Connelly used the threat of the Pelicans job as leverage. But he deserved this extension, anyway.

The Nuggets have only continued to rise since his previous extension three years ago.

Denver has yet to make the playoffs under Connelly, and he declared this season postseason or bust. Denver (39-18) is second in the Western Conference.

Connelly made a second-round pick so good in Nikola Jokic, it altered the course of the franchise. Connelly has done well to lock Jokic onto a five-year extension, surround him with young talent like Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Monte Morris, Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez and get them a good coach in Michael Malone.

If Denver weren’t stuck barely missing the playoffs in the loaded West the last couple years, we might have been singing Connelly’s praises sooner. But his success is undeniable. The Nuggets are in great shape now and in the future, and Connelly should see that through.