As the clock continues to tick towards tonight’s 11:59pm deadline for the Rockets to match the Brooklyn Nets’ 4-year, $37 million offer to Donatas Motiejunas, we’re here left wondering what move the Rockets are actually going to make.
My colleague Max predicted earlier today that D-Mo is likely to be headed to the BK come tomorrow morning, and he brought up some very legitimate points for D-Mo’s departure.
Rockets GM Daryl Morey told the Houston Chronicle on Thursday, “We’re big fans of Donatas. We hope to have him at some point this year.” But that was before the specific terms of the Nets’ offer came through.
While I’m not 100 percent certain and what the Rockets will do, I feel strongly about what they should do, and that’s bring D-Mo back into the fold. Here’s why:
The offer from Brooklyn features two guaranteed years and is slightly front-loaded, with $9 million coming in the first year. The Rockets reportedly were offering D-Mo a two-year deal, with only one year guaranteed at approximately $7 million per season. The offer sheet from Brooklyn is only marginally better than the one Houston pitched, with only one additional guaranteed year at $2 million more per season.
If Morey was honest about team management being a “big fan” of D-Mo, this is an easily matchable deal just slightly more than what the Rockets were initially offering.
Ryan Anderson is starting to find his groove, Clint Capela has a shot at the Most Improved Player award and Montrezl Harrell has given the Rockets a lot of juice off the bench in recent days, but that doesn’t mean the Rockets couldn’t use another big man.
Nene has had some individual moments, but he mostly looks like his goose is pretty much cooked at this stage of his career. He’s been a negative both offensively and defensively for Houston, provides zero rim protection and gives the team nothing during one game of back-to-back sets in which he sits. Do the Rockets miss him?
He’s also on a one-year deal and given the Rockets zero reason at this point to invest in bringing him back next season.
With Chinanu Onuaku still extremely raw and unlikely to be ready to contribute next year (if ever), the Rockets will need another big on the roster. Sure, they could once again go hunting in free agency, but with the NBA salary cap taking another leap into the stratosphere, skilled and experienced frontcourt players won’t exactly be coming cheap. $9 million per may even end up as a bargain.
How healthy is D-Mo? I’m not sure anyone knows for certain. And we all know how tricky back injuries can be. I know from personal experience what recovery is like. I’m actually typing this from my bed at home, just two weeks and change removed from my second spinal surgery since 2014. The road is long and arduous, ripe with pitfalls and pot holes.
That being said, despite the contract protections the Nets added that Max astutely outlined in his piece, the Nets felt good enough about D-Mo’s team physical to offer him this deal. The Rockets felt good enough about his health to pursue getting him back on the team up to this point.
Two years is not a long-term commitment. Even if neither team is certain in the long term, they both are confident enough in the short term to allow Motiejunas to prove his worth. If their medical teams are confident, we should be too.
The Rockets need another frontcourt player, both for this season and the next. The deal offered to D-Mo is only slightly larger than the one the Rockets had been offering. That couldn’t have been unexpected. It’s not like the Nets were going to offer the same or less.
Motiejunas does have his health concerns, but this is not a lengthy deal. Both teams obviously feel confident about D-Mo’s back holding up in the short term.
With the way D-Mo’s skill set should fit into the Mike D’Antoni system, the need on the roster, and the fact that the Rockets are currently carrying some total dead weight (Bobby Brown, anyone?), this is a deal the team can afford, can fit onto the roster, and should help the team.
Daryl Morey should match.