Stan Van Gundy acknowledges the trade for Donatas Motiejunas carries more risk than other moves given his persistent back trouble and status as a soon-to-be restricted free agent, but he feels the chance of a high reward is worth it, as the Pistons coach/executive said Thursday following the trade deadline (transcription via Pistons.com). Motiejunas will have to pass a physical to validate the trade, notes Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press, but Van Gundy said the team believes the back issue is minor, Ellis also relays (Twitter links).
“He’s been a guy that’s been very, very high on our list for a long time,” Van Gundy said, according to the team site. “When our scouts get together and do their thing, that’s what happened at the trade deadline. Both he and Tobias [Harris] have been very, very high on our list. It just happened to be a situation with Tobias where it didn’t work out in the summer because we couldn’t pursue him because of the restricted free agent thing. And Donatas was then just coming off the injury or just had the injury.”
Van Gundy added that “we would have laughed, quite honestly” if someone told him and his staff two weeks ago that they could land both Motiejunas and Harris. See more from the Motor City.
- The Kings were the only “real” suitor for Harris in free agency this past summer, writes Zach Lowe of ESPN.com, though GM Jeff Bower acknowledged the Pistons had interest in signing Harris, tweets Rod Beard of The Detroit News.
- Motiejunas comes with some promise for the future if the Pistons re-sign him, but Thursday’s trade was more about the short term than the acquisition of Harris was, Beard contends. Still, the combination of the moves show the team’s focus on positioning itself for the future, according to Beard.
- The Motiejunas swap wasn’t that much of a risk for the Pistons, who dealt from a position of strength that the Harris trade had given them, MLive’s David Mayo argues. The ability to snag Harris without giving up a first-rounder empowered Detroit to spend that first-rounder in Thursday’s trade, Mayo writes.