I want to start this off by saying you won't find a bigger fan of Donatas Motiejunas then me.
For Christmas this past year, my aunt bought me a Motiejunas pirate shirt (it came with an eye patch, very cool). My twitter profile picture for the longest was me interviewing the 7-footer.
The idea of Motiejunas is great! The problem is the idea and the actual player is not the same person.
The idea is a 7-foot power forward/center who can start and stretch the floor by shooting threes at a high percentage.
The actual player only was able to see the floor about 15 minutes a game last year as he was coming back from offseason back surgery.
The Houston Rockets tried to trade the Lithuanian away to the Detroit Pistons at the trade deadline, but the deal was voided because of concerns over his back. When he rejoined the Rockets, he showed flashes of his former self but did not seem like the same player before going down the year before.
When the Rockets traded D-Mo to the Pistons, it was clear he was not someone that was in their long-term plans anymore. They extended him a qualifying offer, but the Lithuanian has yet to sign, and with training camp days away, the question is: will he take the deal and rejoin the Rockets?
Earlier during the stalemate, thinking he might be frustrated by the lack of movement I reached out via twitter and Motiejunas offered this:
@MrJoshua my mindset is simple : I'm responsible for my shape and my hard work.I have to be ready for the new season no matter what happens!— Donatas Motiejunas (@DonatasMot) August 22, 2016
Recently on twitter, he responded to a fan saying he's trying to work it out to make it back to Houston:
Before the signing of Ryan Anderson, having Motiejunas back seemed like a necessity. Instead, the Rockets finally signed the guy they have been chasing for years and now Motiejunas is more of a luxury than a necessity.
Michael Beasley is another guy who is on the depth chart, and while he isn't the three-point shooter the Lithuanian has shown the potential to be, he is a much more skilled offensive threat. Chances are Beasley would play a lot more than Motiejunas, because of the different roles he can fill.
On top of those two, the Rockets have a few young players who are hungry and in search of minutes. Sam Dekker can play some small-ball four, but Montrezl Harrell is an actual power forward and he's starting to shoot threes and expand his offensive game.
I am sure if Motiejunas signed today/tomorrow/next week, the coaching staff would find minutes for him and find a way to make him a success. He just isn't a guy they absolutely need any more. The Rockets are reportedly kicking the tires on bringing in former Houston fan favorite Carl Landry.
Even still there are also some other power forwards out on the street looking for work to like Thomas Robinson, Charlie Villanueva, and J.J. Hickson. All are decent bodies that can round out the 15th spot on the roster, and if Motiejunas decides not to come back, you could see them reach out to someone like that to see if they can offer any value.
If this is indeed the end, it sucks. Because when Motiejunas first got to Houston, it seemed like he would end up becoming the next big thing in the NBA. His body failed him during such a key time in his development, and ever since ,he's been trying to build back up to where he was before he went down in 2015.
Still, you never know. Maybe he does end up signing the Rockets offer, maybe he does prove he's 100 percent back, maybe he does prove he can still be everything Houston wanted. It’s becoming more clear that Daryl Morey won’t pay him on his own unless another team swoops in, which doesn’t look likely.
The heart of fans wants Motiejunas back, but the brain says "meh, I can take him or leave him."