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Motiejunas’ Deal With Rockets In Limbo

It seems unlikely that the contract Donatas Motiejunas agreed to last week will stand, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Representatives of the league have been contacted in an effort to settle the latest dispute between the Rockets and the 26-year-old power forward.

Motiejunas appeared to have a new four-year, $37MM deal in place on Friday. However, he was sent home before Saturday’s game after taking a physical, and Rockets officials have offered few public comments to explain why.

“We’re in active discussions with Donatas’ representation, the league office and that’s pretty much it,” GM Daryl Morey said Monday night. “… We’re in active discussions with them and the league office. We’re in continuous discussions. I can’t really say more. All three parties matter.”

Morey wouldn’t confirm that Motiejunas failed his physical or say whether the team had changed its mind about wanting to finalize the agreement. He refused to answer any other questions.

It’s the latest twist in an odd saga for Motiejunas, who became a restricted free agent July 1st and went five months without receiving an offer sheet. He signed with the Nets on December 2nd, and the Rockets matched the offer three days later. But the team matched just the $31MM in guaranteed money, not an additional $6MM in incentives.

Motiejunas staged a mini-holdout before the standoff was apparently resolved Friday. The Rockets withdrew the contract that was tied to the offer sheet and submitted a new deal that included incentive money but allowed the team to opt out by July 15th of each year.

The Rockets have been concerned about making a long-term commitment to Motiejunas because of back problems that limited him to 37 games last season and caused a February trade to Detroit to be voided. However, he passed a physical before signing the offer sheet from Brooklyn.

Whatever happens with the Rockets, Motiejunas cannot wind up with the Nets this season, according to NetsDaily. A “first refusal exercise notice” kicked in when Houston matched the offer sheet, which prevents him from going to Brooklyn for a full year. If Motiejunas had failed the Rockets’ physical immediately after that, the Nets may have been able to sign him, but that’s not possible now because Houston came up with a different contract.
Motiejunas offered some insight into the contentious nature of the situation on his Twitter page, which no longer lists him as a member of the Rockets and now just says “basketball player.”

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