We now have a little clarity about the Donatas Motiejunas contract situation: the Rockets have an offer on the table, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein.
ESPN sources say Houston's latest offer to Donatas Motiejunas is a multiyear deal that starts at a fully guaranteed $7 million in Year 1.— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) November 4, 2016
Motiejunas is still a restricted FA after letting his $4.4M qualifying offer expire. Incentives can take latest Houston offer into $8M range— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) November 4, 2016
Nov. 23 is an unofficial deadline for Houston to strike a deal with Donatas Motiejunas, since he's ineligible to be traded after that date.— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) November 4, 2016
First thought: I’m sure it’s great news to D-Mo that his “unofficial deadline” is in place so the Rockets have the ability to trade him again. I bet that gives him a ton of confidence that he’s signing a contract with a team that’s making a commitment to him as well.
According to Stein, teams with $10 million or more in cap room who could theoretically beat Houston’s offer (which the Rockets could nonetheless match): Philadelphia, Denver, Brooklyn, Utah, Phoenix and Minnesota.
Second thought: what is the hold-up on Donuts’ end? Does he really think that one of those teams — all of whom, save for the disaster in Brooklyn, likely don’t want to block their younger, cheaper big men from crucial developmental playing time — is going to give him more than that? It’d be a shock to everyone, from what I understand, if the Lithuanian signs a deal with anyone but Houston this year.
Maybe he wants a longer term commitment, but no outside team is going to give him one. He said he was fully healthy at the time the Detroit trade was canceled, and there’s no reason to believe he’s had a setback. Maybe he’s still bristling at the idea of being an injury concern. But back surgeries have a looooong track record of recidivism.
If this reporting is to be believed — and Stein doesn’t get much wrong — it’s hard to imagine Motiejunas isn’t suiting up for Houston soon. Maybe they’ll hold out until that deadline, but it makes too much sense on both sides for D-Mo to re-sign. The Rockets have 15 men on the roster, but can easily cut Kyle Wiltjer to make room.
The Rockets have been a beautiful offensive machine so far, and some have said Donuts wouldn’t fit. But he’s a great passer, and it’s not like he’s much slower than Nene, who has played well in four out of five games, and he’s just a good a passer and a better distance shooter.
Moreover, as we’ve gone over, Nene and Ryan Anderson are historically injury prone (Anderson to an extreme), and any extended absence on the front line thrusts Harrell into huge minutes and more minutes from an injury-prone player; someone who’s not NBA ready in Chinanu Onuaku or Wiltjer; or playing lots of Trevor Ariza and/or Sam Dekker at the 4, which could work, but didn’t at all last year (at least with Ariza).
Tl;dr: we know more now than we did yesterday, and just sign already, D-Mo.