The Rockets have until the end of the day to decide whether or not they will match the Nets’ four-year, $35MM+ offer sheet for Donatas Motiejunas. And while there have been reports suggesting that Houston would like to keep Motiejunas in the fold, there has been no definitive word yet on whether or not the Rockets will match Brooklyn’s offer and bring back their restricted free agent.
The Nets’ offer reportedly only includes $5MM in guaranteed money, but that figure will increase to $8.5MM in January, and then his 2017/18 salary of $9MM will become guaranteed on March 1. So within three months, about half of Motiejunas’ four-year contract would be fully guaranteed, leaving just the final two seasons non-guaranteed.
Although Motiejunas struggled to stay healthy last season and his production took a significant hit, he looked like a player on the rise in 2014/15, when he averaged 12.0 PPG and 5.9 RPG to go along with a .504 FG% and a .368 3PT%. He has been plagued by back troubles in recent years, creating some long-term uncertainty about his health and limiting his market.
In their negotiations with Motiejunas, the Rockets had reportedly only been willing to offer one guaranteed year, worth about $7-8MM. Team officials reportedly have concerns about how the forward’s back will hold up over multiple years, which could make the Rockets wary about matching an offer sheet that essentially forces them to guarantee him nearly $9MM annually for two years.
The Rockets also would have liked to lock up Motiejunas by November 23, since that would have given the team the option to move him by this year’s February 23 trade deadline. Free agents can’t be dealt for three months after signing their contracts, so Motiejunas will be ineligible to be traded until after the 2016/17 season.
Houston is only barely over the salary cap at the moment, so adding Motiejunas’ contracts to the books wouldn’t put the team in danger of approaching tax territory. And the Rockets could use Motiejunas to provide depth behind frontcourt starters Ryan Anderson and Clint Capela, even if Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell have looked good in part-time roles so far.
What do you think? Will the Rockets match the Nets’ Motiejunas offer sheet? Should they match it? Weigh in on both of those questions in our poll and in the comments section below!
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