Donatas Motiejunas

And-Ones: G League, Motiejunas, Ad Revenue, Australia

The NBA and G League are interested in pursuing top international players prior to their draft year, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. The G League is offering top domestic prospects as much as $500K to train in the G League for a season, rather than being a one-and-done in college or heading overseas. Several top prospects for next year’s draft, including Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga, have accepted those offers.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA forward Donatas Motiejunas will play in China for a fourth season, Lithuanian journalist Donatas Urbonas tweets. He’s expected to sign with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers. Motiejunas appeared in three games with the Spurs during the 2018/19 season after spending the bulk of his NBA career with the Rockets.
  • The NBA has approved an additional sponsorship asset on practice jerseys for use during team practices and shootarounds, Charania tweets. It’s another revenue source for a league that has been hit hard by the pandemic.
  • Australia’s NBL season won’t begin until early next year, according to a league press release. The season will be delayed, according to NBL Owner and Executive Chairman Larry Kestelman, “with the hope of giving clubs the best opportunity to play in front of as many fans as possible.” The Australian League intends to play a full season.

International Notes: Motiejunas, McCallum, Vaughn, A. Williams

Former NBA big man Donatas Motiejunas has decided not to participate when the Chinese Basketball Association resumes play on June 20, tweets Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Carchia posted a photo of Motiejunas boarding a flight this morning to his native Lithuania.

The seven-footer is in his third season in China, signing with the Shanghai Sharks last summer. He was averaging 22.8 points and 15.1 rebounds through 28 games when the CBA was placed on hiatus. He reportedly passed up opportunities with the Suns and Timberwolves earlier this season.

There’s more international news to pass along:

  • The Sharks are discussing a contract extension with former Kings, Spurs and Grizzlies guard Ray McCallum, according to Ennio Terrasi Borghesan of Sportando. McCallum spent time in the G League last year and signed with Shanghai in the fall.
  • Former NBA guard Rashad Vaughn will play next season for KK Buducnost in the Montenegrin Basketball League, Carchia writes. Vaughn also played in the G League last year.
  • Buducnost VOLI is hoping to sign Erick Green for next season, relays Nicola Lupo of Sportando. The former Nuggets and Jazz point guard spent time in China and Spain this year.
  • Alan Williams has agreed to an extension with Lokomotiv Kuban, according to Carchia. The former Suns and Nets big man averaged a double-double during his first season in Russia.
  • FIBA Secretary General Andreas Zagklis addressed several topics during an interview with Sam Corp of SportsPro, including plans for the Basketball Africa League, which was set to begin in March, but had to be delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. “I believe this project has the potential of making our sport on the men’s side what is already on the women’s side the most popular team sport on the continent,” Zagklis said. “Of course, the NBA has an ambition to become the top lifestyle brand on the continent, and the NBA is the best men’s league in the world, and their promotional capabilities are great. I believe that now, as a new product, building on the tradition of the African Champions Cup that has been organised by FIBA Africa in the past, this can really bring a level of popularity of basketball in the continent like we have never seen before.”

International Notes: China, Russia, Poland, Japan

Earlier this week, a report indicated that Chinese Basketball Association teams collectively decided that foreign players who are under contract in the CBA and refuse to return to China will be banned from the league for three years.

With that being said, it seems as if several foreign players are heeding this warning and heading back, per Emiliano Carchia of Sportando

Some of the notable returning players are Jared Cunningham, Donatas Motiejunas, MarShon Brooks, Ty Lawson, and Jeremy Lin. Those players and others will quarantine for 14 days and get tested for COVID-19 upon returning to China.

The CBA’s season is set to resume play on April 15 with games reportedly taking place in Qingdao and Dongguan.

Here’s more on the international circuit:

Suns, Wolves Reached Out To Donatas Motiejunas

3:34pm: Motiejunas is expected to return to China on March 16, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando, who notes (via Twitter) that the Chinese Basketball Association has told its teams it anticipates resuming play in early April. That would take Motiejunas off the table for NBA clubs, unless he wants to try to reach a settlement with his Chinese team, like Randle did.

8:56am: Former NBA forward Donatas Motiejunas, whose Chinese Basketball Association season is on hold because of the coronavirus, was recently contacted by both the Suns and Timberwolves, tweets Lithuanian basketball journalist Donatas Urbonas. Motiejunas, who plays for the Shanghai Sharks, said in a radio interview that he also received interest from Maccabi Tel Aviv.

The CBA’s status is on hold while China tries to contain a massive outbreak of the virus, leaving overseas players uncertain about their future. Chasson Randle reached a settlement with his Chinese club last week and returned to the NBA on a 10-day deal with the Warriors.

Motiejunas, 29, is in his third season in China and his first with the Sharks. He is among the CBA’s most productive players, averaging 22.8 points and 15.1 rebounds through 28 games. He played six seasons in the NBA, mostly with the Rockets, but also had stays with the Pelicans and Spurs.

And-Ones: Giannis, Motiejunas, Nogueira, Bosh

Following a wild 2019 offseason, the NBA has been in a period of relative stability for the last several months. However, there are a number of tipping points on tap for the 2020 postseason and offseason that could re-inject some chaos into the basketball landscape, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com.

According to Bontemps, people around the league will be keeping an especially close eye on teams like the Rockets and Sixers, who will be looking to make deep playoff runs after falling short of their goals in recent years. If those two teams are eliminated early in the postseason, it’s possible major changes could be made, with Mike D’Antoni and Brett Brown potentially on the way out and roster shakeups around the corner.

League insiders will also be curious to see whether the Warriors look to use their 2020 lottery pick as the centerpiece in a trade for another impact player, Bontemps writes. Most notably, all eyes will be on Milwaukee as Giannis Antetokounmpo decides whether to sign a super-max extension with the Bucks. For what it’s worth, Bontemps says every executive he spoke to expects Antetokounmpo to remain in Milwaukee.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA forward Donatas Motiejunas said he has drawn interest from some NBA and EuroLeague teams, per Lithuanian journalist Donatas Urbonas (Twitter link). However, Motiejunas remains under contract with the Shanghai Sharks during the Chinese Basketball Association’s coronovirus-related hiatus and isn’t looking to get out of that deal.
  • Lucas Nogueira, a former first-round pick who spent four seasons in the NBA with the Raptors, has signed with Muharraq Club in Bahrain, according to the team (Instagram link; hat tip to Sportando). The 16th overall pick in the 2013 draft, Nogueira appeared in 141 games for Toronto between 2014-18.
  • Chris Bosh took to Instagram to express his disappointment after not being included in 2020’s list of finalists for the Basketball Hall of Fame.

And-Ones: Pasecniks, Beauchamp, Motiejunas

The No. 25 overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft, Anzejs Pasecniks had his rights renounced by the Sixers earlier this offseason, then joined the Wizards for Summer League action in July. Pasecniks averaged just 4.0 PPG on 28.6% shooting in four games (12.5 MPG), though he did chip in 5.3 RPG.

Despite his modest Summer League numbers, Pasecniks suggests that he’s receiving NBA interest, as Bruno Perkons of Sportazinas.com relays (hat tip to Sportando).

I don’t have a contract at the moment and am a free agent, but let’s just say the negotiations are mostly with NBA teams,” Pasecniks said.

Acquired by Philadelphia from Orlando in a draft-night trade in 2017, Pasecniks remained overseas for the last two seasons, playing for Gran Canaria in Spain. He has yet to sign an NBA contract, so we’ll see if that changes before the 2019/20 season gets underway.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • A top-30 high school recruit, MarJon Beauchamp plans to forgo college and will instead go through a year-long training program with Chameleon BX to prepare for the 2021 NBA draft, writes Jeff Borzello of ESPN.com. Beauchamp was ranked as the fifth-best small forward in the 2020 recruiting class, Borzell notes. A press release from Chameleon BX provides more information on Beauchamp’s decision.
  • After finishing the 2018/19 season with the Spurs, veteran power forward Donatas Motiejunas is headed back overseas for the 2019/20 campaign. Motiejunas recently signed a contract with the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association, tweets journalist Zhang Duo (hat tip to Nicola Lupo of Sportando). The Lithuanian big man previously spent two seasons with China’s Shandong Golden Stars.
  • In an interesting story for ESPN.com, Jackie MacMullan explored how head coaches like Kenny Atkinson (Nets) and Doc Rivers (Clippers) found out about – and reacted to – their teams signing star free agents this offseason. MacMullan also examined the other side of the coin, talking to Nick Nurse (Raptors) and Steve Kerr (Warriors) about losing their stars.
  • The NBA G League released its list of 50 invitees for this year’s NBAGL Player Invitational. The group of undrafted rookies and veteran free agents will get the opportunity to showcase their skills at the event in the hopes of securing a G League roster spot for the 2019/20 season.

International Notes: Bertans, Mozgov, Mirotic, Motiejunas

Having being waived by the Pelicans on Sunday, Dairis Bertans didn’t waste much time in lining up a new home, with a report indicating that he had reached an agreement to sign with Russian club Khimki.

The Moscow Region-based team made it official earlier today, announcing (via Twitter) that Bertans is joining Khimki on a two-year deal. The veteran shooting guard technically hasn’t even cleared NBA waivers yet – that won’t happen until Tuesday – but presumably agent Arturs Kalnitis and Khimki management are both confident that no team will place a claim on Davis Bertans‘ older brother.

Here are a few more international notes related to NBA veterans:

  • Bertans isn’t the only player on NBA waivers receiving interest from Khimki. A source tells Emiliano Carchia of Sportando that the Russian club is also trying to bring center Timofey Mozgov back to his home country, and hopes to reach a deal in the near future. Artem Komarov (Twitter link) first reported the talks between Khimki and Mozgov, who was released by the Magic on Saturday.
  • Nikola Mirotic officially signed with Barcelona on Saturday, with the club issuing a press release to announce the deal. According to the team, Mirotic’s contract will span three years, with a fourth-year option for the 2022/23 season. The veteran power forward was expected to receive a three-year offer in the $45MM range from Utah, but opted to return to Spain instead.
  • After appearing briefly in three games for the Spurs down the stretch in 2018/19, power forward Donatas Motiejunas appears likely to head back overseas. According to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando, Motiejunas is receiving significant interest from the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association. Motiejunas’ former CBA team in Shandong must decide by July 15 whether to make him a restricted free agent, as Carchia explains.

And-Ones: Draft/FA, Martin, Barnes, Lithuania

Per Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston, the Celtics front office, long a staunch supporter of flipping the order of the NBA draft and free agency, once again spoke about the idea of having free agency occur before the draft after a pre-draft workout earlier this week.

“I have been a big proponent of switching the draft and free agency,” said director of player personnel Austin Ainge. “I think that most teams build from veteran players first… you more likely are fitting in draft picks in and around a veteran core group. So I think the calendar should follow our decision-making tree. So I think it should be switched.”

The NBA has been open-minded to changes, having recently modified the beginning of free agency to 6pm on June 30 as opposed to midnight on July 1. It remains to be seen whether the league will be as open to changing the order of the draft and free agency.

There are more odds and ends to report from around the basketball world this evening:

  • Kenyon Martin Jr., the son of former NBA player Kenyon Martin, is bypassing college basketball at Vanderbilt to pursue a professional career, reports Evan Daniels of 247Sports. He joins RJ Hampton as the second high-profile high school prospect to turn down a college career, although Hampton was a much more ballyhooed recruit than Martin.
  • According to a tweet from Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPNKings forward Harrison Barnes will participate in USA Basketball’s August training camp ahead of the FIBA World Cup in China this fall.
  • Spurs big man Donatas Motiejunas was not named to Lithuania’s preliminary roster for the FIBA Basketball World Cup, per Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Carchia passes along the full squad, which features Domantas Sabonis and Jonas Valanciunas.

Spurs Sign Donatas Motiejunas

10:55am: The Spurs have officially signed Motiejunas, the team announced in a press release. The club now has a full 15-man roster.

10:02am: Nearly two weeks after reporting that big man Donatas Motiejunas and the Spurs were nearing a contract agreement, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski provides an update, tweeting that Motiejunas is expected to officially sign with San Antonio today. Motiejunas will meet the team on its current road trip, Woj adds.

Motiejunas, 28, has spent the last two seasons playing for the Shandong Golden Stars in the Chinese Basketball Association. In 37 games with the club this season, he averaged an impressive 27.3 PPG, 14.0 RPG, and 4.2 APG, per Asia-Basket.com.

The Lithuanian forward’s deal with the Spurs was reportedly postponed due to visa issues, but he’s set to join the team in advance of the postseason. He’ll be eligible to participate in the playoffs, since he hasn’t been released by an NBA team since March 1.

Before playing in China, Motiejunas spent five seasons playing in the NBA for the Rockets and Pelicans. In 248 total contests (18.4 MPG), he averaged 7.4 PPG, 3.8 RPG, and 1.1 APG on .469/.300/.600 shooting.

The Spurs have had an open spot on their 15-man roster since buying out Pau Gasol last month, so no corresponding move will be necessary to make room for Motiejunas. Assuming it’s finalized today, his rest-of-season deal will have a very modest cap hit of $59,820.

Southwest Notes: Valanciunas, Spurs, Doncic, Miller

Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas is done for the season after suffering a grade II right ankle sprain during Sunday’s game against the Clippers, the team announced on Monday. While the veteran big man won’t suit up again, he made a strong first impression in Memphis after coming over in a February trade, averaging 19.9 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 2.2 APG, and 1.6 BPG in his first 19 games (27.7 MPG) with the team.

Of course, as Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian notes, there’s no guarantee Valanciunas will be back with the Grizzlies next season. He has a player option for 2019/20, which means he could opt out and elect to sign elsewhere. Still, in an examination of the free agent market for centers, Herrington makes the case that that’s an unlikely scenario. A more probable outcome would involve Valanciunas opting into his $17.6MM salary for next season, or reaching a deal on a longer-term extension with Memphis.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • It has been a week and a half since the Spurs were said to be nearing a deal with Donatas Motiejunas, and Lithuanian journalist Donatas Urbonas tweets that visa issues are holding up an agreement (hat tip to Sportando). The Spurs have gotten involved to try to push the process along, per Urbonas. That’s an indication that San Antonio still wants to get Motiejunas on its roster before the end of the regular season.
  • Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich and GM R.C. Buford are two of the longest-tenured high-level executives in the NBA, in part due to their strong relationship with team ownership. As Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News details, with a new generation of the Holt family set to succeed their parents Julianna Hawn Holt and Peter M. Holt on the Spurs’ board of managers, Popovich and Buford are expecting a smooth transition. “We have full confidence in them,” Popovich said of siblings Peter J. Holt and Corrina Holt Richter. “They’re really intelligent, hard-working people who understand the organization. They’ve grown up with it.”
  • Mavericks rookie Luka Doncic has missed the team’s last two games with a right leg injury, but head coach Rick Carlisle remains hopeful that Doncic will get back on the court before the end of the season, writes Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News.
  • Pelicans swingman Darius Miller is dealing with a grade 1 left adductor strain, and isn’t a lock to return to the court this season. The team announced last Friday that Miller will be sidelined for a week or two.