One final 2016 restricted free agent remains unsigned, and the Rockets continue to make efforts to lock up Donatas Motiejunas to a new deal. According to ESPN’s Marc Stein (via Twitter), Houston’s latest offer to Motiejunas is a multiyear proposal that starts at a fully guaranteed $7MM in year one. Stein adds (via Twitter) that it can increase to the $8MM range via incentives.
Of course, the full details of the offer remain somewhat vague based on Stein’s report. A three- or four-year fully guaranteed contract that starts at $7MM would likely appeal to Motiejunas and agent B.J. Armstrong. However, it’s also possible that the deal more closely resembles Tyler Zeller‘s — earlier this year, the Celtics RFA signed a two-year, $16MM contract that is only guaranteed for one season.
In any case, it doesn’t appear as if the Rockets’ latest offer has the two sides on the verge of an agreement. A source tells Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com (Twitter link) that Motiejunas is looking into the possibility of playing overseas. Even if that’s a leverage play from the forward’s camp, it suggests he’s still seeking a stronger offer from Houston or another NBA team.
The Rockets tendered Motiejunas a qualifying offer worth about $4.4MM back in June. The 26-year-old didn’t reach an agreement with Houston or sign an offer sheet with a rival suitor during the offseason, and that qualifying offer expired last month. Motiejunas can no longer sign his one-year QO, but remains a restricted free agent, meaning Houston still has the right of first refusal should he strike a deal with another team.
Although Motiejunas struggled to stay healthy in 2015/16 and his production took a significant hit, he looked like a player on the rise in 2014/15, when he averaged 12.0 PPG and 5.9 RPG to go along with a .504 FG% and a .368 3PT%. He has been plagued by back trouble in recent years, creating some long-term uncertainty about his health and limiting his market.