HOUSTON (CBS Houston) Despite several reports to the contrary the Houston Rockets elected to keep their 25th overall selection in the 2014 NBA draft to select 6-10 Center Clint Capela of Geneva, Switzerland. The 20-year old post prospect currently plays for Elan Chalon in France.
The Rockets also took guard Nick Johnson out of Arizona with the 42nd overall selection and acquired the draft rights for Italian swingman Alessandro Gentile from the Timberwolves in exchange for cash.
There were several media reports indicating that the Rockets could trade the pick before the selection was made as a way of not adding additional salary obligations for the 2014-15 season with the team looking to shed salary to potentially chase a star free agent this offseason.
By all indications the Rockets plan on having Capela stay overseas to develop his game even further, at least for next season. Capela staying overseas would eliminate any salary obligation for next season.
Capela has informed the Rockets that he would like to play in the NBA now.
“I want to come this year and really work hard here,” Capela told the media in a conference call after his selection Thursday.
Johnson was last season’s player of the year in the Pac-12 and was a finalist for several national player-of-the-year awards across the country for his play with the Wildcats. He averaged 16.3 points and 4.1 rebounds in his junior season leading the Wildcats to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament.
He is the nephew of the late Celtics guard and Hall of Famer Dennis Johnson who played with Rockets coach Kevin McHale.
“It just feels right,” Johnson said bout the connection between his uncle and McHale. “Me growing up and watching all the old Celtics tapes of my uncle and him (McHale) being on and him being that player that he was, it just feels right.”
Johnson said he will look to learn a lot from Rockets starting point guard Patrick Beverley as he sees similarity in their games, specifically on the defensive side of the ball.
Before the draft was complete, Rockets owner Leslie Alexander opened up his checkbook to purchase the rights to Gentile. The Italian forward is currently playing in the Italian league finals for one of the league’s top teams in Milan. He is a player with a strong basketball IQ and strong offensive instincts with good size for his position.
Morey did not immediately say if he will join the team this season but did expect his journey to the US to be sooner than that of Capela.
Follow Alex Del Barrio on Twitter: @ADBSportsguy
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