As the NBA regular season returns Tuesday, here’s a reminder that the league’s rumor season never leaves you.
Whether it’s the winter, spring, summer or fall, sources always seem to be chirping.
And right now, they’re sharing good news on an upcoming collective bargaining agreement, not-so-good news on Mitch McGary’s future in the NBA and a tidbit on why Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets struggled to find chemistry last season.
Rockets Management Pushed for More Minutes for Capela
Throughout 2015-16, the Rockets roster lacked any kind of cohesion. Things got so bad, so fast, that after making the 2015 Western Conference Finals, the team fired head coach Kevin McHale 11 games into the season.
In interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, Houston had a younger, seemingly moldable coach in McHale’s place.
And the front office had some ideas for him, per ESPN.com’s Tim MacMahon: "Houston Rockets management repeatedly pushed for Clint Capela to get more playing time at the expense of Dwight Howard last season, sources told ESPN, adding to the disharmony that played a prominent role in the team’s disappointing 2015-16 campaign."
Given Capela’s age and promising play, the idea of transitioning to him as the full-time center made sense. That’s especially true when you compare his production to Howard’s:
2015-16 Advanced Metrics for Clint Capela and Dwight Howard
Player Age PER TS% TRB% BLK% TOV% WS/48 BPM Clint Capela 21 18.3 55.3 18.5 5.2 10.9 .144 0.5 Dwight Howard 30 18.9 60.4 20.2 4.1 17.0 .138 0.6
Why not go with the younger guy who’s already nearly as productive on a per-minute basis? Well, these things are always about more than the numbers, and while it certainly wasn’t the only factor, it looks like this discontent contributed to the toxic atmosphere.
This season, Houston’s front office will have plenty of chances to see if it was right. Capela’s the undisputed starter in the middle, and the early returns have looked good.
Capela averaged 18.4 points and 16.5 rebounds per 36 minutes in the preseason. The one concern looks familiar, as Capela went 1-of-10 from the free-throw line.
McGary May Play Overseas Following Release from Thunder
Despite struggling with various injuries throughout his rookie season in 2014-15, former Oklahoma City Thunder big man Mitch McGary looked like he had the potential to be a serviceable player.
That year he averaged 14.9 points and 12.2 rebounds per 36 minutes. In February 2015, he had back-to-back games of at least 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Now, those games feel like a distant memory. The 6’10" big man appeared in just 20 games in 2015-16. And after multiple suspensions for noncompliance with the league’s drug policy, the Thunder waived him Monday, per the Associated Press (via NBA.com).
The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported McGary’s next stop could be overseas:
For now, Mitch McGary is hoping to resume career in China or Europe, sources tell @TheVertical. Wherever he plays, he has issues to resolve.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) October 24, 2016
As Wojnarowski noted, McGary "has issues to resolve."
If he can’t get whatever was leading to those suspensions under control, it could be difficult to find another job in the NBA. If he can do that, though, McGary’s size and effort could make him an interesting piece off the bench for a team in need of some rebounding.
NBA’s New Collective Bargaining Agreement Could Be for 7 Years
A work stoppage over collective bargaining negotiations between the league and National Basketball Players Association is looking less likely with each new update.
On Monday, Wojnarowski reported the new deal could last for up to seven years:
The NBA and National Basketball Players Association are working on a seven-year extension to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, with a mutual opt-out in six years, league sources told The Vertical.
The seven-year deal could potentially deliver the NBA labor peace through the 2023-24 season, unless the opt-outs are exercised in 2022, league sources told The Vertical. … The NBA and the union have agreed upon the major issues of the deal and are finishing negotiations on smaller provisions, league sources said.
Soaring revenue, increased franchise valuations and monster player contracts have been the norm in recent years, and both sides look interested in keeping that positive momentum going.