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Does Clint Capela fit into the Timberwolves roster?

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In Shams Charania’s last piece for the athletic, reported, “The Timberwolves have discussed deals around veteran centers, including Atlanta’s Clint Capela, sources said.” It’s just a sentence, but news that the Wolves are discussing deals to acquire a center may indicate Tim Connelly’s offseason priorities. Capela, 28, is currently in the final year of his contract and will earn $18 million. The simplest move financially would be a trade of Capela for Malik Beasley. On the surface, that seems like a fair deal, but does Capela fit into the Wolves roster?

I have long criticized the idea that Karl-Anthony Towns would be better paired with another great. Ultimately, I feel like the offensive advantage he brings as a center outweighs the defensive flaws. I always thought that finding high-quality perimeter defenders could cover a lot of his weaknesses on that side. I also questioned the strategic advantage of pairing two greats in this NBA, where we’ve seen the greats play off the floor in high-leverage situations so many times.

However, with the recent success of the Boston Celtics playing Al Horford and Robert Williams together, I’ve begun to rethink my position.

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However, Horford and Williams are an odd couple. Williams is an elite rim protector and has solid perimeter quickness. Therefore, it is not a total responsibility to defend in space. Horford is a high-quality defender in his own right. He’s certainly not the defender he was when he formed an all-defensive team in 2017-18, but he’s still rock solid. Both are undersized but can handle their own bass. As a duo, they give the Celtics the ability to be a force on the glass without giving up too much on the perimeter. Offensively, Horford can reliably space the floor to the 3-point line, while Williams adds the element of vertical space.

Again, those two are a rare pair. I think Towns doesn’t get enough credit for his defensive ability, but pairing him with Capela would require a significant change in the Wolves’ defensive scheme. As it stands, Minnesota’s aggressive pick-and-roll coverage relies heavily on the defense’s ability to move and recover. For much of the season, the scheme worked, largely due to the length and quickness on the perimeter of Jarred Vanderbilt, Jaden McDaniels, Anthony Edwards and Patrick Beverley. Capela is more of a big drop. He would end up in the blender more often than not if Chris Finch includes him in that coverage. Do Wolves really want to invest in a big pair alongside Cities that would lead to a major scheme change?

I understand why the need to find a great one seems so pressing. The Wolves were horrible on the defensive glass last season. The Memphis Grizzlies’ dominance on the offensive boards was a huge factor in their playoff loss. But Towns is a tough big man to match. In many ways, it is a traditional center. It’s big and wide, which is good even if it sounds like an insult. And while he has decent lateral speed for his size, he’s still a risk defending the perimeter. If the Wolves add another, even more traditional center, they’d be covering one hole while opening another by doubling down on Towns’ lack of defensive ability on the perimeter.

Finding the perfect mix of great interchangeables/rim protectors/glass cleaners to go with it feels like as dubious an undertaking as searching for Bigfoot. I don’t think Capela is that player. Theoretically, I don’t see a problem pairing Towns with a stretch center. Playing power forward could save Towns some wear and tear throughout the season. It might even open up an opportunity for him to expand his perimeter game even more than he has done so far.

However, I see some positive aspects in bringing in a great like Capela. D’Angelo Russell had the best year of his career playing a rim-running center in Brooklyn. From my perspective, DLo’s game is much better complemented when he can run a more traditional pick-and-roll with a lob threat. Adding a lob threat to the roster also opens up an entirely different element of space that this team lacked last year. Towns is the best lateral floor space center, but he lacks the pop to provide any vertical threat. Vanderbilt and McDaniels pulled out all the stops to fill that role last year, but Capela would give DLo a legitimate giant above the rim to play.

The Wolves need to address their rebounding problem. His season came to an end when they hemorrhaged rebounds against the Grizzlies. I’m just not convinced that investing assets in Capela is the way to go. If the Wolves have to give up draft equity for Capela, whose current contract is set to expire after this season, is it really worth it? My hope is that these “discussions” that Shams reported are just that: discussions. If the Wolves want to add size to their roster, I don’t think Capela is the best option.

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