Detroit president/coach Stan Van Gundy denied the claim, but the dispute might not end there.
The National Basketball Players Association is strongly considering filing a grievance with the NBA after the Detroit Pistons voided a trade over concerns about Houston Rockets forward Donatas Motiejunas’ back, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The Pistons voided a three-player trade with the Rockets on Feb. 22 after Motiejunas failed a series of medical examinations on his surgically repaired back. Motiejunas has since been cleared medically by the Rockets and has played in five games. Sources close to Motiejunas believe the voided trade could damage his status as a restricted free agent next offseason.
Motiejunas’ representatives believe Van Gundy should not have spoken publicly about their client’s medical situation. NBPA executive director Michele Roberts and a union spokesperson declined comment.
An important distinction: The Pistons didn’t clear Motiejunas as healthy enough to give up a first-round pick for him. The Rockets cleared Motiejunas as healthy enough to play basketball. Those are obviously two different standards, and Motiejunas meeting one but not the other does not suggest malfeasance.
That said, Motiejunas might get somewhere by objecting to Van Gundy’s public statements after Detroit voided the trade. The Collective Bargaining Agreement states:
each Team may make public medical information relating to the players in its employ, provided that such information relates solely to the reasons why any such player has not been or is not rendering services as a player.
Was Motiejunas ever officially in the Pistons’ employ? If so, for how long? Did Van Gundy say anything after the trade was voided to break this rule? Is he permitted to say why Motiejunas, a Rocket, is not rendering services as a player for the Pistons?
The Pistons’ official statement on voiding the trade was pretty vague. They didn’t even say which player – Motiejunas or Marcus Thornton – didn’t receive medical clearance. They also cited “privacy considerations relating to medical information” for not giving more information.
But Van Gundy got a little more specific when replying to Motiejunas’ accusations. Did Van Gundy cross a line? Did Motiejunas successfully (though not necessarily deliberately) bait Van Gundy into violating the CBA?
The language in the CBA is pretty broad, but maybe not broad enough to keep the Pistons completely out of trouble.