Houston Rockets reportedly offer Donatas Motiejunas multi-year contract

Feb 8, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Donatas Motiejunas (20) brings the ball up the court during the first quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 8, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Donatas Motiejunas (20) brings the ball up the court during the first quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

Houston Rockets have reportedly offered Donatas Motiejunas a multi year deal with a guaranteed first year of $7 million.

The stand off between the Houston Rockets and Donatas Motiejunas has been going on all summer.   October 1st came and went signaling the cut-off of the Rockets $4.4 million qualifying offer. New deadlines are now in place with November 23rd being a critical date.  If Motiejunas remains unsigned past that date, but finds resolution thereafter the club cannot include him in any future trades this season.

That’s not to say the intent of the club is to trade him, but GM Daryl Morey and the franchise would want to keep those options open.

What is significant is the fact the Rockets are pushing now to get the Lithuanian forward-center locked in and that they have almost doubled their original offer.

The two sides had been far apart in their desires with Donatas Motiejunas and agent B.J. Armstrong wanting an offer of between $8 to $10 million per year. So the $4.4 million offer was just slightly more than half Motiejunas asking price.

It was rumored Houston were willing to expand the offer to a two or three year term.  The differential of  $3.6 million to  $5.6 million was conceivably why there was a stalemate. And, in truth Houston had all the power in this decision with so few teams having available roster or cap space.

Cut to present and it appears via Marc Stein’s series of tweets the Rockets have moved closer to D-Mo’s ask with potentially a number of years plus incentives.

ESPN sources say Houston's latest offer to Donatas Motiejunas is a multiyear deal that starts at a fully guaranteed $7 million in Year 1.

— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) November 4, 2016

Motiejunas is still a restricted FA after letting his $4.4M qualifying offer expire. Incentives can take latest Houston offer into $8M range

— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) November 4, 2016

Donatas Motiejunas to ESPN on playing overseas: "It's always good to have a Plan B." Playing overseas has always been in the cards for him.

— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) November 4, 2016

Nov. 23 is an unofficial deadline for Houston to strike a deal with Donatas Motiejunas, since he's ineligible to be traded after that date.

— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) November 4, 2016

This move appears to be an effort to resolve the stand off and lock in Motiejunas prior to November 23rd.  D-Mo had been hinting at a trip overseas to play, but perhaps this signals an end to the cold war between the Rockets franchise and the player.

As per Stein’s “Son of Weekend Dime” article:

Motiejunas remains a restricted free agent after he chose to let Houston’s $4.4 million qualifying offer for this season expire Oct. 1. 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 hesitant to guarantee future seasons 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.

Six teams out there still possess in excess of $10 million in salary-cap space to make a play for him if they wish — Philadelphia, Denver, Brooklyn, Utah, Phoenix and Minnesota — but the Rockets remain able to match any offer Motiejunas receives.

As I noted in the last update following the lapse of the qualifying offer only Denver, Brooklyn and Philly had cap space or roster space to extend D-Mo an offer. With trades, training camp cuts and waived players that list has now grown to include Utah, Phoenix and Minnesota.

Related Story: Donatas Motiejunas Qualifying Contract Expires – Now What?

Of those teams Denver, Philly and Utah have no need of front court help. Logical participants would be Phoenix who are still in dire need of depth in the front court and Brooklyn who could use talent – period.  There is an outside chance Thibodeau might consider adding the versatile center who can also play power forward given his ability to hit from deep. However, the ascent of Nemanja Bjelica tends to make me think that’s also unlikely.

In the event Motiejunas declined the offer to play overseas he would still remain the property of the Houston Rockets who could match any offer extended.

From a purely practical perspective Motiejunas fits D’Antoni‘s style of play and even summons the thoughts of a young Danilo Gallinari. Further the money being offered is extremely close to the original ask. Because of that factor this feels like a deal could be imminent.

As the Rockets prepare to face the Atlanta Hawks and their former big man Dwight Howard, the irony isn’t lost Morey is trying to seal this deal with D-Mo down prior to that game.

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