Not so fast.
Motiejunas failed to show up to the team physical on Tuesday as reported by the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen. and others.
The Rockets matched a four-year, $37 million offer from the Nets for Motiejunas, but Houston now has the option of returning him to restricted free agent status — and to restrict him from signing with the Nets for a year.
The move is brought into the light after Motiejunas’ agent B.J. Armstrong comments:
Motiejunas' agent, B.J. Armstrong: "We have our rights. We're not going to show up. We'll see what happens. We'll see what the Rockets do."— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) December 6, 2016
The tension began to build between the Rockets and Motiejunas in February. Houston traded Donuts to the Detroit Pistons, a trade later voided by Detroit following Motiejunas failing a team physical 11 months after back surgery.
The relationship continued to strain after the Rockets made a qualifying offer to Motiejunas in July, making him a restricted free agent. The two parties were at an impasse in salary until the Nets’ offer sheet this last past week.
So now, the story takes another turn. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey sees clear value in Motiejunas: he extended a qualify offer to him over Terrence Jones and matched a sizable offer sheet. But clearly, Morey has a very defined value of Motiejuans where he could not reach an agreement with his camp — only turn around and match the Nets’ offer sheet.
This must feel like a nightmare for Motiejunas to be destined for two different rosters and be pulled back to Houston both times.
There’s been rampant speculation on Twitter that this is a power play by Armstrong to try to get around the collective bargaining agreement that gives little power to young players in restricted free agency. While that may be true, Armstrong can’t act without the blessing of his client.
Adding to the confusion: here’s what D-Mo told Fox’s Mark Berman just three days ago:
This is just a bizarre turn of events that we hope comes to a resolution quickly.
UPDATE: Collective Bargaining Agreement expert Larry Coon breaks down the nuances of this deal in a must-read for people who care about this stuff.