Clint Capela hasn't been able to rehab from his heel injury like he'd hoped to, but the Hawks' new center continues to progress even as the NBA season remains on pause.
Capela hasn't been able to do any on-court work since the league suspended its season on March 11, and the Hawks' medical staff can't work as closely with him due to social distancing precautions (and the fact that Capela has gone back to Houston). But he does have a weight room at his home in Houston, and still gets instructions on workouts and exercises to continue toward a full recovery from plantar fasciitis in his heel.
"I’m feeling pretty good," Capela told The Athletic's Chris Kirschner this week. "I’m going to keep doing what the medical staff is saying. I think they’ve been doing a pretty good job. I feel pretty good, honestly. I’m not 100 percent yet. It’s getting better, so I’m optimistic about it."
The big man had begun light on-court workouts with assistant coaches before the season stopped, which included hook shots, dribbling, and layups around the rim, as well as some straight-line and lateral movement.
"[Capela was] in the middle, toward the end, and it was all based on, ‘Can we progress every single day?’" Lloyd Pierce said earlier this month. "We can’t evaluate any of that stuff right now."
Capela told The Athletic that he likely exacerbated his injury by trying to play through it before the Rockets traded him to Atlanta. The heel injury became quite painful before he was shut down and eventually traded, but Capela says the pain has subsided significantly.
He works out six days each week, and checks in with the Hawks' medical staff once a week to report on his progress and how he's feeling.
It's unclear how much Capela would have played had the season not been suspended. He played just 39 games with Houston, and didn't suit up for the Hawks. Atlanta was expecting to have him back after the All-Star break, but his timeline was delayed slightly, and with just 15 games remaining on the schedule, he would have had little time to ramp up to NBA speed and intensity given where he was in his rehab process before March 11.
Still, the Hawks feel they know what they have in Capela on both ends of the floor, and are confident he can provide a significant boost as a rim protector and pick-and-roll finisher next season. Pierce, Capela, and Travis Schlenk also believe his voice and postseason experience can be valuable for a young team looking to make the leap into the playoffs.
"Now I get to tell my experience and now I get to talk more about how you’re gonna go [in the playoffs], because they don’t know,” Capela said in March. “I do know because I’ve been there, so I get to have a voice and tell them how to be ready, because this thing is hard."
Capela is exactly the sort of young but established player the Hawks will continue to seek this offseason, and has reportedly been vocal in team meetings recently. They hope that by the time the roster is fully-formed, he'll be able to contribute.