Via SI.COM – Clint Capela and John Lucas stepped out into the drizzle. The Rockets’ starting center may as well have been another New York skyscraper, his 6’10″ frame shielding the Houston assistant coach while they awaited an Uber back from Barclays Center to the team’s hotel in downtown Manhattan. On this Sunday morning in January, Capela is still two days away from returning to the court following a small left fibula fracture that sidelined him for 15 games.
The team bus had long since departed following the Rockets’ morning shootaround. The duo lagged behind to loft extra jumpers and free throws. Rehab is a mere blip in Capela’s evolution into James Harden’s symbiotic lob partner. Lucas, after all, forfeited his day-to-day role in the John Lucas Wellness and Aftercare Program to lead the Rockets’ player development. With alcohol and substance abuse derailing his own NBA career—which the Rockets launched by selecting the Maryland product No. 1 overall in 1976—Lucas scripted a second act as a hybrid personal trainer and life coach, draft prospects and NBA stars alike seeking his gospel.
Capela’s the strapping specimen a development staffer dreams of: a reservoir of athleticism, a frame practically begging to be sculpted with muscle, an inherent understanding of the sport. Near 7-foot, 22 year-olds of that makeup are rarer than desert rain, and his recent history of rapid skill maturation only compounds the Rockets’ excitement. Lucas is the unique lifer equally qualified for hardwood tutelage and off-court inspiration. Capela might just be the pupil he was destined to mentor…
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