Nets try the offer-sheet game again with reported Donatas Motiejunas deal

The Donatas Motiejunas saga might finally be over. The restricted free agent big man is close to signing an offer sheet with the Brooklyn Nets, per ESPN's Marc Stein and The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski. The Houston Rockets would then have three days to match the offer. An agreement is expected as soon as Friday.

Motiejunas, 26, has been in a stalemate with Houston since July. Back in February, the Rockets agreed to a trade that would send him to the Detroit Pistons, but the Pistons voided the deal after he failed to pass their physical. Due to concerns about his back, he was unable to attract an offer to his liking on the free-agent market, and the Rockets pulled their most recent offer to him last Tuesday, according to ESPN. That offer reportedly started at about $7 million and went for two years, but the second season was not fully guaranteed.

From ESPN:

The Nets have been discussing the move internally for some time and, according to one source, are "comfortable" with where the Lithuanian big man is medically after back issues scuttled the Houston Rockets' trade of ‎Motiejunas to Detroit in February.

From The Vertical:

Depending on the robustness of the deal - in terms of money and guaranteed years - the Rockets have held a strong interest in matching an offer sheet for Motiejunas and getting him back into the team's lineup, league sources said.

...

The uncertainty around Houston's willingness to agree to a long-term deal with Motiejunas had been focused on his recurring back issues. Motiejunas, who played 37 games last season, had been examined by Nets doctors and medical staff in the past week, league sources said, and the results gave comfort to Brooklyn to move forward on the offer sheet.

Donatas Motiejunas in Houston
Donatas Motiejunas could be back on the court soon. USATSI

So, why would a rebuilding team like the Nets take a chance on Motiejunas, given his injury issues? A few thoughts:

  • Brooklyn has no choice but to get creative. If the front office wants to acquire effective, relatively young players, it will have to either a) pay more than other teams or b) take risks on players that other teams might shy away from. That is the reality of being without its own draft pick until 2019 and being unable to sell free agents on a realistic chance of winning. It was also their logic for the offer sheets the Nets gave to restricted free agents Tyler Johnson and Allen Crabbe, both of which ended up being matched.
  • Motiejunas makes Brooklyn better right now. Without its own draft pick, there is no incentive for tanking the season. This team is 5-12 after snapping a seven-game losing streak with a 127-122 double-overtime win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday. It is also 22nd in offensive rating, 29th in defensive rating and 29th in net rating. Motiejunas, a solid post player and physical defender with range on his jump shot, can help the Nets on both ends.
  • If Motiejunas signs a multi-year deal and proves he can stay on the court, it's a win for Brooklyn regardless of how he fits with the roster. General manager Sean Marks has made some nice, under-the-radar moves since taking the job in February, but he's been dealing at a significant disadvantage the whole time. Even if Motiejunas doesn't become a part of the Nets' core, it would still be useful to have a proven contributor as a trade chip.

Of course, the Rockets could make all of this Nets analysis moot if they decide to match. Motiejunas should function just fine in coach Mike D'Antoni's offense as both a screen setter and a floor spacer, and if they think he can improve their 27th-ranked defense, then they have to give this serious consideration.

This means that Brooklyn has some tricky math to do: how lucrative and long-term does this offer have to be to dissuade Houston from matching it? There is no word yet on the terms of the offer sheet.

CBS Sports Writer

James Herbert is somewhat fond of basketball, feature writing and understatements. A former season-ticket holder for the expansion Toronto Raptors, Herbert does not think the NBA was better back in the... Full Bio

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