*** UPDATE -- This was reported but never happened ***
The Rockets' 7-foot Lithuanian Donatas Motiejunas is allegedly being assigned to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Houston's D-League affiliate.
Is it a chance to get his mojo back or a D-Mo showcase for a future trade?
D-Mo spent 7 games with the Vipers last season. He posted 20.3 ppg & 9.7 rpg in 34 mpg -- A stat line that makes you believe he's an NBA-ready player.
A trip to the D-League may be a positive move for the second-year big man. He's failed to find playing time in Kevin McHale's rotation even with injuries to Greg Smith and Omer Asik. He's tallied 19 DNP's this season.
Motiejunas has been a serious contributor to the Rockets only once this season, in a December 26 game against Memphis. D-Mo helped the Rockets find a gritty win with an outstanding defensive performance against Zach Randolph. Dwight Howard, Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin credited the win to D-Mo after the game and a national audience watched as Howard sat the entire fourth quarter in favor of the suddenly defensively adept Motiejunas.
D-Mo's big night in .gifs:
The dig on D-Mo is that he can't play defense. He's lost in most defensive sets. He's proven slow and ineffective when guarding his man face to face. He's proven weak and easily overpowered when guarding a player who has their back to the basket.
On offense he has a clear gift for finding ways to score near the basket and has a decent shooting touch. He resembles Luis Scola with three point range.
There's a chance this move is an attempt my Morey to move Asik. D-Mo looks like a Daryl Morey trade asset right now. By placing him in the D-League where he can post some eye popping numbers other GM's may be inclined to take him in a deal for Asik.
There's a chance this is also a move to let D-Mo get his mojo back. Either way, I'll now be watching Vipers games.