For the Pelicans, it’s a smart roll of the dice as they look for bigs to pair with Anthony Davis.
For Donatas Motiejunas, it’s a lot less money than he was hoping to get — much less than the contracts he had agreed to then didn’t get to sign — but it’s a foot in the door and a chance to prove he can play.
What had been reported more than a week ago became official: The Pelicans have officially signed Motiejunas.
He signed a veteran minimum deal through the end of this season. Just a few weeks back, the Nets had signed him to a four-year, $37 million offer sheet — a contract that was incentive heavy. Then the Rockets matched the $31 million of the deal they had to (only this season was guaranteed). After that Motiejunas’ agent and the Rockets worked out a $35 million deal that gave Houston more time to opt out next summer, but that deal fell apart when Houston saw the results of his physical. They released him and made him a free agent.
The 7-foot Lithuanian big man has skills as a stretch four — two seasons ago he shot 36.8 percent from three, he can be physical inside, he’s got enough of a post game to make smaller players pay (and he’s okay against bigs), he can be physical on the boards, and you can see how he might pair well with Davis in an uptempo system for Alvin Gentry.
That is, if he’s healthy — he’s missed a lot of time with back issues, there has been surgery, and the Rockets clearly were concerned enough after his physical they were willing to let him walk rather than keep him on even through the end of this season. We may never get to see Motiejunas’ potential.
But for the Pelicans, it’s a low-risk gamble.
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.