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Rockets match offer, keep Donatas Motiejunas

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The Big Lithuanian is back in red

Houston Rockets v Denver Nuggets Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Daryl Morey didn’t need until midnight. The Rockets have matched the Nets’ four-year, $37 million offer sheet to Donatas Motiejunas, ensuring the 7-footer will be in Houston for the foreseeable future.

Bobby Brown, who got more time in the spotlight for vandalizing the Great Wall of China than he did time on the court (22 minutes total), was waived to make room on the 15-man roster.

It wasn’t an easy call. Max predicted Morey would let Donuts walk just this morning (he’s not upset to be wrong, either), and his logic was sound: the Rockets are playing well, D-Mo figures to come off the bench and he’s got a scary back injury.

But the potential benefits of having D-Mo back in Houston, especially on such a team-friendly contract, were too much to ignore. He’s a terrific passer, is now the second-best rim protector on the team and he’s just 26 years old. He could move well before his injury and is by all accounts healthy. Don’t forget he’s got a history of shooting well from the outside.

It’s unclear when he’ll first suit up for the Rockets this season, or how. I’d vote to give him Nene’s rotation spot from the get-go, since Nene is on a one-year deal and is professional enough to stay ready in case he’s needed down the road.

To everyone who’s against this deal: stop it. The Rockets are playing with house money right now when it comes to health, as all of Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson, Patrick Beverley and Nene are healthy. That situation lasting all season is more than a slight improbability. Chinanu Onuaku and Montrezl Harrell should not be asked to play big minutes. D-Mo has proven that he can, on a very high level.

This is not some D-League project or second-round flier. Donuts played in the playoffs against the Warriors last year, and played well. He anchored the middle of a 56-win team two years ago. The coach wants him. His GM wants him. Any chemistry issue being presumed is overblown; no one promised minutes to anyone. You think Nene or Harrell are blindsided by the fact that D-Mo’s now their teammate? They knew he was a restricted free agent this summer, and chances are they’ve been bracing for this move like all of us have.

What’s important now is the Rockets have another rotational piece locked up long-term. The core of the team for the near future is set with James Harden, Gordon, Anderson, Clint Capela, Sam Dekker, Trevor Ariza, Donatas Motiejunas and Patrick Beverley, with Harrell, Onuaku, Gary Payton II, Kyle Wiltjer, Zhou Qi (remember him?) and Sergio Llull (lloll) waiting to make themselves a part of it.

This is a happy day. Welcome home, Donuts.