Jones, Motiejunas Nix Rockets Extension Talks

Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas are taking a pass on signing rookie scale extensions with the Rockets and will instead set themselves up for restricted free agency this coming summer, reports Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports. Neither was able to gain traction in talks with the team, Charania adds. The deadline for rookie scale extensions is Monday.

That Houston was apparently not willing to bend too far in negotiations with either is no surprise, given GM Daryl Morey‘s longstanding desire to retain cap flexibility each year. The Rockets have about $44.3MM committed against a salary cap that some executives believe will rise to $95MM for next season, but that doesn’t include a team option worth $1.296MM the Rockets plan to exercise, nor does it include Ty Lawson‘s $13MM-plus non-guaranteed salary or Dwight Howard‘s $23MM-plus player option.

The Rockets will have the ability to match offers for both Jones and Motiejunas, and owner Leslie Alexander’s remark to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle this week that, “Nobody ever leaves here if we want to keep them,” underscores the level of control the team has. Still, the Rockets lost Chandler Parsons on a player-friendly offer sheet to the Mavs in 2014, and Jones and Motiejunas will be eligible to solicit similar deals from competing teams.

The pair of power forwards both experienced significant injuries last season, with Jones missing the first half of the season with a nerve injury that left him questioning whether he’d ever play again and Motiejunas missing the stretch run and the playoffs with an ailing back. Motiejunas has yet to return from his injury, though he’s questionable for Friday’s game.

Grantland’s Zach Lowe speculated in August that Jones might ask for $15MM salaries, and he’s shown his value as a floor-stretcher with 35.1% three-point shooting last year, an improvement over his first two seasons. Still, the 23-year-old struggles defensively, as Arthur Hill of Hoops Rumors points out in our extension candidate profile of the Thad Foucher client.

Motiejunas, 25, has had mixed results defensively, though he, too, displayed an improved outside shooting game in 2014/15, when he made 62 starts and nailed 36.8% of his three-pointers. However, for a 7-footer, his rebounding numbers were a disappointing 5.9 boards in 28.7 minutes per game, as I noted in our extension candidate piece for him. Foucher, a Wasserman Media Group agent, also represents Motiejunas, though both Jones and Motiejunas are former clients of Arn Tellem, who left the agency for an executive job with the Pistons organization, notes Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link).

Do you think Jones and/or Motiejunas will be back with the Rockets next season? Leave a comment to let us know.

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