Despite losing several key players to injuries, the Rockets managed to make the Western Conference Finals last season. Now, with Patrick Beverley healthy and Ty Lawson in the fold, they expect to be one of a crowd of contenders once again this year. But at least one of their most important role players won’t be ready to go right away, at least not in training camp. Fourth-year big man Donatas Motiejunas suffered a back injury in April near the end of the regular season and missed the playoffs, and hasn’t played for the Lithuanian national team in the EuroBasket tournament. There was hope that he’d be ready for the start of training camp, but Rockets coach Kevin McHale shot that down at Tuesday night’s uniform unveiling event, via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:
This isn’t the end of the world for the Rockets, but it would have been nice to have a fully healthy roster for camp. Houston had a good offseason, picking up Lawson for spare parts and re-signing Beverley and Corey Brewer to solid value deals. But if there’s one position where they could use more depth, it’s power forward, so if Motiejunas isn’t ready when the season starts, that will hurt. Motiejunas and Terrence Jones are both up for extensions before the October 31 deadline, but neither one has proven themselves definitively to be the long-term solution, and Motiejunas’ health issues won’t help his case.