Should Celtics turn to Clint Capela trade if Al Horford leaves as free agent?

Should Celtics turn to Clint Capela trade if Al Horford leaves as free agent?

The Boston Celtics needed to add depth in the frontcourt before Al Horford reportedly opted out of his contract this week, and with rumors suggesting the veteran center could take his talents elsewhere, interior defense should be a top priority for the C's as they build next season's roster.

Who could the Celtics target on the trade market if Horford leaves in NBA free agency in July? One name to consider is Houston Rockets center Clint Capela. A report last week said the Celtics were "intrigued" by Capela, and SNY's Ian Begley reported Tuesday the Celtics have "checked in" with the Rockets regarding the talented big man.

Capela averaged 16.6 points, 12.7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game for Houston last season. He's also just 25 years old, so he'd fit in well on the Celtics if they want to go young and build around Jayson Tatum (age 21) and Jaylen Brown (age 22).

Horford and Capela do have one big difference in their skill sets. Horford is a very good 3-point shooter, while Capela didn't take a single shot from beyond the arc last season. Capela won't stretch the floor like Horford, but like the veteran center, the Rockets star is a very good interior defender. Capela's contract has four years and $72 million remaining, which isn't burdensome, but also not cheap for a player who doesn't shoot from 3-point range.

Another concern with Capela is if the Rockets' system made him look better than he would be on another team. Capela got a lot of alley-oops and open shots near the rim as a result of James Harden and Chris Paul often drawing multiple defenders on pick-and-rolls or simple drives to the basket. The Celtics don't have a guard like Harden, but they do run plenty of pick-and-rolls, and Brad Stevens is as good as any head coach when it comes to putting players in a position to maximize their talent.

Why would the Rockets want to trade Capela? Well, Houston needs to make some changes after failing to reach the NBA Finals in each of the last two seasons, and the reported drama surrounding the Harden/Paul duo sounds problematic as well.

What would the Celtics have to give up for Capela? Trading Tatum or Brown obviously would be a foolish move. The Rockets haven't made a first-round pick since 2015, and the Celtics have three first-rounders in the 2019 draft. The Rockets reportedly are expected to be aggressive in pursuing star free agent Jimmy Butler, and clearing Capela's salary from their books without taking on a large contract in return would aid in that process. 

The Celtics should pursue Capela, but having to give up Tatum, Brown or even Marcus Smart would be reason to walk away from any negotiations. If that's a deal-breaker for Houston, so be it. Capela is really talented, but he's not a superstar player, and the Celtics shouldn't part with their best assets to acquire him. Those assets should be a saved for a franchise cornerstone-type star.

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NBA Rumors: Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant won't play for Nets when season resumes

NBA Rumors: Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant won't play for Nets when season resumes

Since the NBA's suspended season has given Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant months to recover from their respective injuries, some believed they could return and make the Brooklyn Nets title contenders.

That theory was put to rest on Friday.

Durant confirmed to ESPN's Marc J. Spears he will not be returning to play when the NBA season resumes in Orlando, Fla. next month. As for Irving, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski says the former Boston Celtics guard suggested on Friday's NBPA conference call it's possible he could join the team... as an inactive player.

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Durant missed the entire 2019-20 campaign after rupturing his Achilles tendon in last year's NBA Finals. Irving underwent surgery in March to repair an impingement in his right shoulder that ended his first season with the Nets after only 20 games.

Brooklyn currently holds the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 30-34 record on the season.

Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck offers thoughts on NBA's 22-team return plan

Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck offers thoughts on NBA's 22-team return plan

On Thursday, the NBA announced a 22-team plan to resume the 2019-20 season in Orlando, Fla.

The plan passed by an overwhelming 29-1 vote among teams, with the Portland Trail Blazers as the only organization to vote against it. Boston Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck, obviously, was one of the many in favor of the plan and discussed why Friday on Felger & Mazz.

"The point that seemed the most fair is not to give a team that was lagging farther behind in the East, and that was for example [the Charlotte Hornets] who are seven games back," Grousbeck said. "In the history of the NBA, no one has ever come from seven games back at this point in the season. And so, it's more fair to say no, we can only take so many teams because of safety.

"We don't want to have 500 more people with all 30 teams. We'd just have more of a chance of getting shut down because of the virus. So there was a line to be drawn, and we all decided 29-1 that this was the most fair line."

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With safety as the No. 1 concern going forward, it's a no-brainer to limit the teams heading down to Walt Disney World to only the ones that can fight for a playoff spot.

Grousbeck also suggested that the Eastern Conference No. 1 seed Milwaukee Bucks could be the C's first opponent when the league returns to action. The Celtics were preparing for a matchup in Milwaukee when the season was suspended in mid-March.

"I think our first game is going to be Milwaukee, which that would be interesting," Grousbeck said. "Because that's what the schedule looks like just from the current schedule. We don't have the new schedule yet. But we'll probably start right off with Milwaukee."

The C's currently have the No. 3 seed in the East as they prepare to return to the court.

You can hear the rest of what Grousbeck had to say in the video above.