Donatas Motiejunas didn't show up for his physical with the Houston Rockets on Tuesday, and this move was apparently because he and agent B.J. Armstrong feel he's being shortchanged by $6 million. According to ESPN's Calvin Watkins, the Rockets matched the Brooklyn Nets' four-year offer for Motiejunas but removed the incentives that would have made it possible for Motiejunas to bump his pay from $31 million to $37 million.
Houston's options are to keep their first-refusal exercise notice open and wait for Motiejunas to report. If he doesn't report, Houston can pull the offer Thursday and Motiejunas would become a restricted free agent. If they don't pull the offer, it would expire automatically March 1.
Rockets officials are willing to work a separate deal with Motiejunas, something his agent is willing to talk about, in the $31 million range. One of the problems with the offer sheet for the Rockets is a $9 million guarantee for the 2017-18 season. Based on the offer sheet, a team would have to make a decision on March 1 to enact that clause. Houston, according to a source, would like to push that date to the summer.
Armstrong is also open to receiving an offer sheet from another team.
As collective bargaining expert Larry Coon wrote, Armstrong is trying to strong-arm the Rockets here -- he wants more money or the chance to negotiate a different deal with another suitor. Houston has followed NBA rules, though, and Motiejunas is breaking them.
Meanwhile, Houston's coaching staff and players are just waiting to find out if Motiejunas is going to be available. From the Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen:
"This is the business part of it," Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said. "He has to be satisfied and the team has to be satisfied. Hopefully, they're still working through issues and talking about it. When he comes on this court, we will welcome him with open arms and fit him in. He's a heck of a basketball player. If it doesn't happen, that's beyond my control. It doesn't change my mindset or the players' mindset about him.
"He's one, a good guy," D'Antoni said. "Two, he's a good teammate. Three, he's a real good player. Four, I think we run a system I think he will enjoy. Five, I think it's in his best interest to enjoy it. There's a lot of reasons for him to embrace it once he's here. That's what his agent, himself and management have to go through to find a happy place. Once he's here, he'll be good - I hope."
"It can be a difficult situation, but I think the personalities on this team, we're not going to let it affect us," Rockets forward Corey Brewer said. "If he comes or doesn't come, we're trying to win basketball games. If he comes, I hope he buys into what we're doing, that's to be an NBA champion."
If Motiejunas never plays for the Rockets again, it would be a bit disappointing, but it would clear the way for their young players to keep developing. Clint Capela has been playing the majority of the minutes at center, and second-year big man Montrezl Harrell has seized his opportunity to play that position, too. Forward Sam Dekker, also in his second season, has been effective when bumped up to the 4 spot. While Motiejunas would be a welcome disruption to the rotation, D'Antoni could easily stick with those guys and veteran big man Nene, letting this group grow together.