The Houston Rockets are apparently not going to let Donatas Motiejunas and his agent, B.J. Armstrong, skirt the rules of the restricted free agency process. According to the Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen, the Rockets are going to hold Motiejunas to his contract, rather than returning him to the open market after he decided not to report to Houston for his physical.
Motiejunas, 26, has had an unusual relationship with the Rockets since last season. They tried to send him to the Detroit Pistons at the trade deadline in February, but the Pistons voided the deal because of concerns about his back. Motiejunas then returned to Houston and was a part of the rotation for the rest of the year. Since the start of the offseason, he was in limbo until the Brooklyn Nets signed him to a four-year, $37 million offer sheet including $6 million in incentives last week. The Rockets decided to match the offer sheet, but league rules do not require them to match the incentives. The holdout is reportedly about that $6 million discrepancy.
A few thoughts:
- This seems like a pretty brutal miscalculation by Motiejunas and his camp. The moment he signed the offer sheet with the Nets, they had to know that Houston matching without the incentives was a possible scenario. That's a great contract for the Rockets, and it's not as if they have no use for him.
- Things seem ugly now, but the business stuff doesn't have to carry over to the court. Armstrong isn't negotiating with coach Mike D'Antoni, and you don't have to look far for an example of something similar: Houston guard Eric Gordon tried to manipulate the New Orleans Pelicans into letting him walk when he was a restricted free agent back in 2012. After signing an offer sheet with the Phoenix Suns, Gordon said that his heart was in Phoenix. New Orleans matched it anyway, and Gordon stayed there until he signed with the Rockets in free agency last summer.
- We still don't have word on whether or not Motiejunas plans to continue his holdout or report to Houston. Essentially, he is a Rockets employee not showing up to work right now.