Hawks announce significant injury update for $46 million starter

The Atlanta Hawks announced a significant injury for one of their starters suffered during their fourth straight win.
Atlanta Hawks center Clint Capela
Atlanta Hawks center Clint Capela / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

The Atlanta Hawks (22-27) are plagued by injuries again. The latest is former rebounding champion Clint Capela.

Atlanta announced the 30-year-old center will be sidelined for roughly two weeks.

“An @emoryhealthcare injury update: After experiencing discomfort late in last night’s game vs. Golden State, center Clint Capela underwent an MRI earlier today at the Emory Sports Medicine Complex,” their release read on February 4. “He has been diagnosed with a left adductor strain. He will be re-evaluated in seven-to-10 days and his status will be updated as appropriate.”

Capela finished the Hawks’ 141-134 win over the Golden State Warriors with 17 points, 15 rebounds, and two assists. He has dealt with knee injuries over the last few seasons. But Capela has been healthy this season, missing just two games

The Hawks split those contests and now have to navigate the immediate future without their starting center.

On the lighter side of the projection, Capela could return as soon as February 12 against the Chicago Bulls. That is the last of a two-game homestand, though, with a road date against the Charlotte Hornets two nights later on February 14.

That is the longer-end date of Capela’s projected re-evaluation.

After that, the league hits the All-Star break, meaning the Hawks big man may not see the floor again until February 23 against the Toronto Raptors.

That is the start of a three-game homestand that also includes the Orlando Magic and Utah Jazz, potentially making for a softer landing spot for what should be a well-rested Capela by that point. In the meantime, the Hawks get a glimpse of what life is like without Capela.

The Hawks have been better statistically without Capela this season. 

They have a neutral net efficiency differential with him off the floor compared to a minus-3.0 differential with him on it, per Cleaning The Glass.

Hawks lose size, trade flexibility with Clint Capela injury

However, they are a smaller team. They have leaned more on two-big lineups with him next to Onyeka Okongwu, who will step into Capela’s place in his absence. Okongwu’s development this season made that possible and could have the Hawks playing more five-out looks now. 

Okongwu is not generally the rebounder Capela is, though.

The Hawks could suffer on the glass and in second-chance points without Capela, putting an additional burden on their offense to be efficient

The Hawks might not have had plans to follow through, but Capela’s is one of several names mentioned in volume ahead of the trade deadline on February 8. In the first year of a two-year, $45.9 million contract, he could provide size and toughness inside for a contender.

His injury all but puts an end to that possibility. Teams are hesitant to surrender assets for aging players as it is, let alone ones dealing with injuries.

For a Hawks team that has dealt with so many injures in the frontcourt, that’s not a bad thing.

They are still without Saddiq Bey, who is dealing with a sprained ankle. While he and Capela do not play the same position, Bey has become a force on the glass for a Hawks team that has not always gotten strong rebounding production outside of its bigs.