Donatas Motiejunas

Reports: Ty Lawson, Donatas Motiejunas sign with same team in China

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Used to be, some fading NBA players would head to Europe for a couple more nice paydays — not NBA money, but good money nonetheless.

Now those guys are heading to China — that’s where the money is.

Enter Ty Lawson and Donatas Motiejunas, who are heading to the same team in China.

ESPN confirmed that Lawson, who played last season in Sacramento, is heading to China. Sportando reports that Motiejunas is headed there on a $3 million deal (more than he would have made on an NBA minimum contract).

Lawson’s quickness and scoring ability are going to see him put up big numbers in a Chinese league where defense borders on optional. That could catch the eye of NBA teams looking for veteran point guard depth headed into the playoffs — remember the Chinese season ends in February or March (depending on how deep a team goes in the playoffs) so both Lawson and Motiejunas could get picked up by an NBA team for the postseason.

Report: Pelicans trying to trade Terrence Jones

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After their trade today, the Pelicans have the NBA’s most dynamic big-man tandem: Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.

Davis and Cousins are tall, athletic and skilled in a combination we might have never seen from any power forward-center duo since Charles Barkley-Hakeem Olajuwon. New Orleans’ two could thrive together, and while they develop chemistry, they’ll each likely get minutes without the other.

That doesn’t leave much playing time for someone like Terrence Jones.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

Jones settled for a one-year minimum contract after an injury-plagued and inconsistent tenure with the Rockets. His inconsistency remains, but considering his salary, his highs more than justify dealing with the lows. At just 25, Jones could still figure out how to reliably contribute.

Jones’ contract dictates he be rental, which will lower his trade value. But he could help teams trying to win down the stretch — including New Orleans.

Dante Cunningham seems more favored at power forward, and Donatas Motiejunas can fill in. But the Pelicans could still use Jones.

Shopping him might be a favor to the player, but we’ll see whether an actual trade is part of the gesture.

Report: Rockets make push to sign Donatas Motiejunas, see Thanksgiving as deadline

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Donatas Motiejunas, on paper, should be the kind of big man who thrives in Mike D’Antoni’s offense. Two seasons ago he shot 36.8 percent from three and you have to respect him from the midrange, if teams scramble in transition and he is guarded by a much smaller guy he can make them pay in the post, and defense isn’t a huge focus. He could be a nice reserve big in Houston.

He’s also a restricted free agent coming off a season where he played in just 37 games due to back issues that led to surgery. How much do you pay a man like that?

The Rockets have their number, and it’s around the league average at $7 million (more with incentives). Other teams with cap space have not even stepped in with an offer sheet to force the Rockets to choose. Motiejunas and his agent think he deserves much more, let the Rockets $4.4 million qualifying offer expire, and are sitting out the season to this point. The Rockets have made a push to sign him this month, but see today (Nov. 23) as the deadline due to the trade deadline, something Marc Stein of ESPN reported on a while ago.

Nov. 23 is the date of particular significance, sparked by the fact Motiejunas can’t be traded this season if he’s signed after that date, which could possibly lower his value with potential outside suitors as well….

Sources told ESPN on Friday that the Rockets’ latest offer is a multiyear deal that starts at $7 million annually, with attainable incentives that could take it to $8 million.

The Rockets are presently unwilling to fully guarantee more than the first season in a new contract, sources say, in a nod to the back injury that scuttled Houston’s trade with Detroit in February that briefly made Motiejunas a Piston until the deal was voided due to a failed physical.

For the record, there are teams out there with the cap space to come in and make a larger offer that would force Houston to match or let Motiejunas walk — Philadelphia, Denver, Brooklyn, Utah, Phoenix and Minnesota. However, none of those landing spots make much sense (for example, the Sixers and Nuggets don’t need another big to cram into their already crowded frontcourt rotations). If it’s about the money, Motiejunas isn’t going to play overseas where he would get less than a third of what Houston already has on the table.

Restricted free agency can suck for players who feel undervalued. Motiejunas clearly believes he is worth more. But he’s also a guy in a profession where he has a limited number of years he can earn ridiculously large paychecks, and right now he is missing those checks on this principle. We’ll see if that changes by the end of the day.

Report: Rockets offering Donatas Motiejunas $7 million guaranteed this season

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Donatas Motiejunas let his $4,433,683 qualifying offer from the Rockets expire, leaving him a restricted free agent with no unilateral path to joining the team.

Bust Houston has thrown him a lifeline.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

We don’t know enough about that offer to judge it.

If the contract comes with multiple unguaranteed seasons and a deescalating salary, that’s probably a bad deal for Motiejunas. If he plays well and stays healthy, he’d be locked in at a submarket rate. If he struggles or gets hurt (an enhanced possibility with him), Houston could cut him loose without additional payments.

If it’s a one-year deal, Motiejunas should probably take it.

Both sides have some leverage.

The Rockets’ ability to match any NBA offer has cooled outside interest. Other teams now have full rosters. As Motiejunas sits out, he’s not earning any money.

But Houston also isn’t getting his production, which is his major source of leverage. The Rockets could use the talented big man. Another bit of leverage for Motiejunas: the threat of playing overseas.

Calvin Watkins of ESPN:

Spending the season in another league wouldn’t end Motiejunas’ restricted status. Houston would maintain matching rights.

So, if Motiejunas is going to play in the NBA again, Daryl Morey and B.J. Armstrong must find common ground. As of last check, that’s not going so hot.

Donatas Motiejunas’ agent, B.J. Armstrong: ‘When analytics can measure human behavior, then and only then will I find them useful’

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Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has cultivated a reputation as the NBA’s most statistically inclined front-office chief.

So, it’s impossible to read this tweet from B.J. Armstrong – the former Chicago Bull and current agent of Donatas Motiejunas, who’s in a contract quarrel with Houston – as anything but a shot at Morey and the Rockets.

Armstrong:

Of course analytics can measure human behavior. Taking a basketball and putting it through a hoop is a behavior done by humans. Points is a statistic that measures how many times someone has done that from varying distances.

Obviously, analytics get far more complex, but they’re still measuring human behavior.

If Armstrong meant analytics don’t measure the totality of a human, well, I’d like to see a method for evaluating players that does.