They’ll remain flexible to do so.
The Houston Rockets and forwards Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas are bypassing contract extensions before the Nov. 2 deadline, unable to gain traction in discussions, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
One reason not to extend Jones or Motiejunas: It’s unclear which is more worth a major investment. Both have played well when healthy, but neither has clearly surpassed the other. Houston might not want to give big deals to two players at the same position.
So, the Rockets will get another season to evaluate and then handle the pair in restricted free agency.
Plus, the low cap holds of Jones ($6,223,825) andMotiejunas ($5,720,513) offer at least the chance of flexibility. Either player probably would’ve commanded an extension with a higher starting salary, which would have served as the cap number next summer. Now, Houston can hold the players at the lower amounts and then exceed the cap to re-sign one or both.
Houston might not have cap space regardless of Jones’ and Motiejunas’ cap hits, but Ty Lawson‘s 2016-17 salary is fully unguaranteed and Dwight Howard can opt out. There’s at least an outside chance this matters, even if it’s just to tick the Rockets just above mid-level exception money available.
In the meantime, Jones and Motiejunas will have an intriguing internal battle to earn a major offer from Houston next summer. Jones (15 points and six rebounds) got a head start in the opener with Motiejunas still out due to a back injury suffered last season. Once Motiejunas gets healthy, though, it’s on – unless the Rockets line up a way to land a star power forward. That won’t be easy, but it’ll be a little easier without tying up Jones and Motiejunas on extensions.