While off-season news have significantly died down, even ones on the potential trades for Damian Lillard and James Harden, there are others who are still dishing out updates. One of the most recent are the Atlanta Hawks.
In what feels like an annual watch, Clint Capela finds himself at the center of speculation once again. He’s been dangled a handful of times over the years.
Despite forming a dunk-filled partnership with Hawks All-Star Trae Young, the big man’s future with the team hangs in the balance as they navigate a transitional period under a new coach and explore various roster changes.
Since arriving in Atlanta in 2020, Clint Capela has proven to be an invaluable asset to the team. His chemistry with Young has been a significant factor in the Hawks’ success. The duo’s ability to connect seamlessly in the pick-and-roll and alley-oops have been part of the daily highlight reel and a headache to the opposition. The imposing presence in the paint also creates a variety of option for the offensively inclined Young and other guard, Dejounte Murray.
As one of the best rebounders today, the Swiss center has consistently averaged a double-double, accomplishing the feat in each of the last six seasons, which includes his three-year tenure in Atlanta. During the 2022-23 season, Capela posted his usual stats by registering 12.0 points and 11.0 rebounds per game on a career-high 65.3% shooting. He also joined an elite group as he was one of only four players in the season to average a double-double while also shooting over 60% from the floor – he stood alongside NBA MVPs Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid, and All-Star Domantas Sabonis.
While Capela’s contributions have been quite solid, the Hawks have been bounced in the first round in back-to-back years, a step back from their 2021 Eastern Conference Finals run, thus finding themselves in need of a shake-up.
The mid-season hiring of head coach Quinn Snyder in February 2023 shortly after letting Nate McMillian go, as well as the decision to trade John Collins in the following June for salary cap relief indicate the team’s likely stern view on making changes. All that makes a Capela trade very possible anytime soon, perhaps even before the 2023-24 season starts.
Various teams have expressed interest in acquiring the dominant center, with the Dallas Mavericks being one of the primary suitors. They have been asking about Capela since draft night, but it went nowhere. According to Marc Stein, Atlanta offered Collins and the 15th pick for Davis Bertans and the Dallas’s 10th pick, but the Mavericks asked for Capela instead of Collins. The Hawks said they would only agree if Josh Green was included in the deal. Dallas then declined and it went nowhere.
The Mavericks, who are led by the high-scoring tandem of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, are in search of a defensive-minded big man to complement the offensive firepower. Capela’s shot-blocking abilities and tenacious rebounding could make him the ideal addition to bolster the Mavs’ frontcourt. He can also mentor rookie big man Dereck Lively II.
At 29 years old, Capela still has several productive years ahead of him. His consistency as a double-double machine and a defensive hawk (no pun intended) have made him a coveted asset for the top contenders. It will be nice to see him back on a championship-caliber franchise, where his play can get more spotlight. Note that he was part of the short-lived, James Harden-Chris Paul era of the Houston Rockets run in the late 2010s, where they almost dethroned the unbeatable Golden State Warriors who had the Splash Brothers and Kevin Durant all in their primes.