Clint Capela, Rockets agree to five-year, $80-90 million contract

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Clint Capela is going to get paid.

Not as much as he wanted, not as much as he would have been offered most summers, but life-changing money and security that the young center could not walk away from.

The best free agent left on the market, Capela and the Rockets found a middle ground (closer to the Rockets’ side) that will keep the big man at the heart of the Houston defense for seasons to come. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN broke the news.

The Rockets later confirmed it.

The contract is five years, no player options, for $80 million guaranteed with $10 million in incentives.

That is close to what the Rockets offered back on July 1 (reportedly five-years, $85 million), a deal that back then Capela walked away from because he thought he could get more. Most summers he would have — Capela averaged 13.9 points and 10.8 rebounds a game (with a 24.5 PER) last season, shot 65.2 percent, blocked 1.9 shots a game. He emerged as their third star during the playoffs, a critical piece of the Rockets starting lineup and switching defense. He was able to anchor the paint and protect the rim with all that switching going on, and the Rockets were 4 points per 100 better with him on the floor.

Most summers Capela would have other teams trying to poach him from the Rockets with max or near-max offers (five years, $148 would have been the max from Houston). This summer not a lot of teams had max money and those that did were not looking for a center like Capela (for example, the Sixers had cash but are pretty set at center).

Capela was pinched by the market and left with the tough choice of taking the Rockets offer or something close to it, or playing for the $4.7 million qualifying offer, banking on himself having another great season and staying healthy, then cashing in next summer. He’s a player who has made $6 million so far in his NBA career, it’s tough not to take the security of $80 million. Capela did just that.

With him, the Rockets remain one of the few teams that are a threat to Golden State. The Rockets may have taken a small step back defensively this offseason, but they are title contenders now that they know they have Capela locking down the paint.