Eric Gordon has seen every possible iteration of the Houston Rockets. He was there when they came a game away from reaching the NBA Finals, and now, he's there as they attempt to pick up the pieces following the James Harden trade. It's therefore safe to say that he can offer meaningful perspective on the steps his team took to wind up in both places, and as he revealed on Friday, there was one move in particular he flat-out disagreed with.
Gordon's former teammate, Clint Capela, has thrived with the Atlanta Hawks. He has averaged 22 points across his last four games, and on Friday, he dropped a rare triple-double by posting 13 points, 19 rebounds and 10 blocks. When ESPN's Tim MacMahon commented on the surprising feat, Gordon chimed in and voiced his displeasure at the Rockets for having traded Capela.
I’m still pissed 😡— Eric Gordon (@TheofficialEG10) January 23, 2021
The Capela trade happened almost a year ago, and most prognosticators considered it a win for Houston. Out went Capela, a non-shooting center that was clogging the lane for then-Rocket Russell Westbrook, and in came Robert Covington, an ultra-switchable wing that provided more spacing. On paper, the move made sense given the makeup of Houston's roster, but the Rockets were ultimately wiped out of the second round by the eventual-champion Lakers. Covington was then dealt to the Portland Trail Blazers, whereas Capela is now shining with the Hawks.
The regime that made the move is now gone. Former top Rockets executive Daryl Morey is running the Philadelphia 76ers, and his deputy Monte McNair left for the Sacramento Kings. That removes a bit of the drama of Gordon seemingly criticizing his own front office, but it's still a rare public rebuke from a veteran player who nearly helped lead the Rockets to a championship.
And in a sense, it's justified. Capela was a key member of the 2018 Rockets team that almost won the title. Covington never got the Rockets nearly as far, though in fairness, there were other circumstances involved in Houston's bubble flop. Still, Gordon would be justified in wanting to keep as many components of that original contender in place as possible. The Rockets didn't, and it didn't work out. Now, as they move towards a rebuild, a 26-year-old center putting up the sort of numbers that Capela now is would certainly be helpful.