New York Notes: Motiejunas, LeVert, Knicks, Rose

Donatas Motiejunas would have been a huge addition for the Nets if the Rockets hadn’t matched his offer sheet, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Having another 7-footer on the court would have helped a team that ranks last in points allowed and scoring margin. Motiejunas could also have provided a fourth scorer in the starting lineup. The Nets have given more than 800 combined front line minutes to Justin Hamilton and Luis Scola, neither of whom is having a productive season. After matching the four-year, $37MM offer sheet, Houston worked out a separate deal with Motiejunas, then waived him after his physical. That made him a restricted free agent, but he’s not permitted to sign with Brooklyn for a full year after the offer sheet was matched.

The Nets still have nearly $17.8MM in cap room and seem like obvious candidates to make some roster moves before the February 23rd trade deadline. “Will we be active? I think we’ll be strategic,’’ GM Sean Marks said. “We’re not just going to jump on something.”

There’s more news today out of New York:

  • Nets rookie Caris LeVert can expect to see his minutes expanded as the season wears on, according to NetsDaily. LeVert had nine points and seven rebounds in Friday’s loss to Cleveland and is making an impression on coach Kenny Atkinson“I love how hard he plays. Good for him to see a few shots go down,” Atkinson said. “That’s a positive we get out of this game.”
  • The Knicks‘ winning record isn’t impressive because it was built against lower-level teams, charges Marc Berman of The New York Post. With today’s loss to the Celtics, New York is now 16-14, but just 3-10 against teams that are .500 or better. “That’s the jump we got to make,’’ shooting guard Courtney Lee said. “Just learn from it and put it all together so when we play those losing teams we’re supposed to take of, we do that, but then the plus-.500 teams we got to start taking care of that, too.”
  • Derrick Rose is hoping to remain healthy for the rest of the season after recovering from back spasms, Berman writes in a separate story. After appearing in 66 games with the Bulls last season, Rose has been able to play in 25 of the Knicks’ first 30 contests. “I feel good,” he said. “Not feeling my back anymore. My body is healthy — just trying to find a rhythm, just trying to play my game, either a floater or try to finish at the rim or me trying to dunk. I feel all three elements are my game.”
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