The Houston Rockets saw so little future in Donatas Motiejunas, they decided to release him after he failed a physical with the team. The Rockets could have easily held on to his rights (by just failing him on the physical, which would have returned him to restricted free agent status) but they chose to let him go and seek his next chance somewhere else.
That chance appears to be in New Orleans, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports and Marc Stein of ESPN.
The Pelicans have waived veteran wing Reggie Williams to create a roster spot for this move.
This is a good roll of the dice by the Pelicans, and getting Motiejunas on a veteran minimum contract (likely with options for next season and incentives if he plays well) minimizes the risk. The Pelicans are looking for anyone who could play next to Anthony Davis — we know it’s not Omer Asik or Alexis Ajinca — and Motiejunas’ ability to space the floor with his shot seems like a natural fit. Especially with the up-tempo, pace-and-space style Alvin Gentry would prefer to run.
This is a big financial step back from where Motiejunas was just a few weeks back. Brooklyn had signed him to a team-friendly, incentive-filled four-year, $37 million contract, but Houston matched the core $31 million of it (all they had to do). After Motiejunas refused to report, he reached a four-year, $35 million deal with Houston (that gave the team more time to decide on future year options), but then came in a failed his physical.
Now we just need to see if Motiejunas can get healthy and back on the court.
Gordon Hayward is going to have surgery on his ankle and leg, which should not be a surprise to anyone who saw the gruesome injury to his leg just 5:15 into his Celtics career. There is no timetable for his return yet, maybe he makes it back for the playoffs, but the Celtics are not going to rush him and he may well miss the entire season.
What next for Boston?
In this PBT Extra I cover the three things to watch for from Boston, which in the short term could mean the Kyrie Irving show. Longer term, not much changes.
Gordon Hayward broke his leg early in his Celtics debut – a devastating injury. He’s preparing for surgery tonight, per Jeff Goodman of ESPN:
First – after a perfect introduction from Marcus Smart – Hayward addressed the Boston crowd from his hospital bed before tonight’s game against the Bucks.
What’s up everybody? Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has sent me your thoughts and prayers. I’m going to be alright. It’s hurting me that I can’t be there for the home opener. I want nothing more just to be with my teammates and walk out onto that floor tonight. But I’ll be supporting you guys from here and wishing you the best of luck. Kill it tonight. Thanks, guys.
At least this nice moment (and an outpouring of support) came out of such a gruesome injury.
And if Smart keeps setting up his teammates so well, maybe the Celtics’ offense will keep humming.
Joel Embiid‘s minute limit of below 20 bummed out everyone (especially Embiid).
But good news could be on the way.
Keith Pompey of The Inquirer:
The 76ers look like a borderline playoff team, Embiid’s health the biggest variable. There’s a direct correlation between his ability to stay on the court and Philadelphia’s postseason chances.
Plus, he’s just so darn fun to watch. The more he plays, the bigger victory it is for every viewer not rooting for the 76ers’ opponent that night.
John Henson was on the trade block. Greg Monroe seems permanently affixed there.
Another player the Bucks apparently want to deal? Rashad Vaughn, who was the No. 17 pick in 2015.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Milwaukee has been working to trade several players to clear salary-cap space, including guard Rashad Vaughn and center John Henson, league sources said. The Bucks have been willing to attach a second-round pick in offers for Vaughn, league sources said.
It’s unclear whether the Bucks are still as motivated to move Vaughn. They slid under the luxury-tax line by stretching Spencer Hawes. One-time target Richard Jefferson already signed with the Nuggets. A roster vacancy and cap savings might not matter as much anymore to Milwaukee.
But Vaughn has struggled in two NBA seasons. The Bucks might be better off trying to develop someone else, even a D-League player, over the 21-year-old Vaugh.
Vaughn is due $1,889,040 this season. He faces a $2,901,565 team option for next season, which his team must decide on by Oct. 31. It seems unlikely that will be exercised.
This is what happens when you draft players for the wrong reason.