To start the weekend, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that Clint Capela and the Houston Rockets finally came to an agreement on a five-year contract extension. Since then there have been conflicting reports on the details of that deal, but a commitment is in place for both sides to stay together long term.
**exhales, wipes nonexistent sweat from his brow**
What a relief.
Capela, the just turned 24 years old center who is signing his first major contract, has quickly become one of the most effective big men in the league. And as a restricted free agent this summer, the longer his negotiations went on with the Rockets organization, the more unclear it became whether a deal would get done at all.
In what should sound terribly familiar for Dallas Mavericks fans that followed Dallas’ negotiations (or lack of negotiations) with their young center last year, Capela had the opportunity to scratch talks for now, take his qualifying offer this summer and wait for unrestricted free agency in 2019. Nerlens Noel can tell you the gamble in that strategy is real.
So why is it such a relief that Capela re-upped with a Mavericks’ division opponent, thus forcing them to face the high flying, shot blocking big man in perpetuity — rather than hope a deal never gets done?
Well, if the last seven summers have taught MFFLs anything it’s that chasing the big fish center is easier said than done. It’s that just the thought of that possible blockbuster deal can be an all-consuming fire, a tunnel vision focus that takes up every ounce of extra thought about the future of the roster. It’s that courting free agency’s prized possession often means letting some of your own prized possession’s walk — a bird in the hand. It’s that putting all your eggs in one basket can derail a summer pretty quickly.
The Mavericks went out this month and got their target, a sentence not often written when it comes to Mavs free agency. And right after getting their draft target too? No complaints here. This summer is to be celebrated.
But with DeAndre Jordan off the books after a single season, the Mavericks might be back on the market next summer, in search of a long term solution at center. With Capela, who would have been far and away the best unrestricted free agent center next summer had he opted, now off the market, the distracting shining light in the distance should be dimming.
Now, there are a few other sparkly-jaggedy options that the Mavericks could hone in on **coughcough** DeMarcus Cousins deargodpleaseno **coughcough**. But at least now there is one less top tier player for the front office to sell out for.
The best case scenario is this trial year with DeAndre Jordan works out like many think it will, and that a desire for a longer deal appeals both sides. The summer of 2019 is going to be vital for the long term viability of the next Mavericks era. One or two free agent missteps could set them back for some time.
So take a breath MFFLs, the Mavericks may have dodged a bullet.