Because Motiejunas remains a restricted free agent, the Rockets would have the option to match any offer sheet he receives. Motiejunas’ camp believes Houston’s offers haven’t been sufficient based on his performance. If the 26-year-old Lithuanian native decides to play overseas, the Rockets would still retain his NBA rights and could match any deal.
Motiejunas is “surprised and upset” that he is still without a contract nearly five months after free agency began. He could have accepted the Rockets’ $4.4MM qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent next summer, but he let it expire October 1st in anticipation of reaching a long-term deal.
Houston pulled its latest contract offer on Tuesday and will reportedly drop the monetary amount of any future offer. A source told ESPN that if talks resume, the next offer would be at least $1MM smaller for the first season. The Rockets’ last offer reportedly included roughly $7MM in guaranteed first-year salary with team options beyond that. Houston officials considered November 23rd to be an unofficial deadline to reach an agreement because it was the last day Motiejunas could have signed and still been eligible for a trade at the February 23rd deadline.
The Rockets are reluctant to make a long-term commitment to Motiejunas because of his history of back problems. He played just 37 games last season, and a trade to Detroit in February was rescinded after he failed a physical. Second-year forwards Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell have filled in for Motiejunas during Houston’s 9-6 start.