Clint Capela sidelined
USATSI

Clint Capela hasn't played since Jan. 29, and he'd like to get back on the court with his new teammates. The Atlanta Hawks have 19 games in the last six weeks of the season, and ideally they'd like their starting center to play in some of them. It is not clear whether or not that will happen, but Capela told reporters on Thursday that his heel is still "pretty sore" each morning, via The Athletic's Chris Kirschner.

"It's way better now," Capela said. "Before (with Houston), it was an 8, 9 or 10. Now, it's coming back down slowly. It's like a 7 to 5 somedays. There are still a lot of ups and downs, but it's really progressing. I see it when I wake up and start doing drills and when I run. I definitely see a difference."

Capela is scheduled to be re-evaluated on March 13, at which point Atlanta will have 13 games left. He told reporters that he had tried to play through pain with the Rockets before they traded him in February, and has not been told by the Hawks' staff that he will be out for the year. It would be reasonable, however, to assume that they will be cautious. 

From The Athletic:

Capela said he 100 percent wants to play again this season because "I'm not here to sit on the bench and clap my hands. My job is to go out there and play and be as dominant as I can. When I don't do that, it's hard."

But time is running out. For a team that's not competing for the playoffs this season, it doesn't make sense to rush Capela back if he's not fully healthy.

"I think anything we can get -- the number keeps dwindling every time I say it -- but I think anything we can get from a sanity standpoint is big," Pierce said. "But what we're going to get with those guys and our guys is becoming less and less. It's obvious. If we can get them on the court to play with our guys before the season ends, it would be great."

Pierce went on to say that Capela is not about to transform his game to fit in with the Hawks. He is a prototypical rim runner and vertical spacer on offense, and, even if he does come back, they will not expect him to play for long stretches or produce like he does at his best. The goal would simply be to see how he works with Young, in terms of the angles of his screens, the timing of his rolls and other little nuances.

This seems like a sensible approach, and I'd add that it would be beneficial to see how Capela works with John Collins, whose fit with Capela is much more questionable. Collins has been playing out of his mind lately, and the whole league is waiting to see what happens to Atlanta's offense when his role changes.

If Capela's plantar fasciitis doesn't fully go away, then the Hawks will eventually have to make a calculation. At what point is it not worth it to disrupt the team to try to integrate a player who isn't even 100 percent healthy and can't play for longer than a few minutes at a time? As excited as they may be to see Capela finishing alley-oops from Young, the longer this issue persists, the more appealing it will be to simply rule him out until next season.