According to ESPN’s Calvin Watkins, contract talks between the Houston Rockets and free agent forward Donatas Motiejunas have been slow to progress. Motiejunas’ agent, B.J. Armstrong, had this to say on the discussions:
“They haven’t made us a serious offer. Our moment of truth will be Oct. 1. We’ll make a decision on that day.”
The Rockets reportedly extended a qualifying offer worth $3.4 million to Motiejunas earlier this summer. However, Watkins reports that Armstrong indicated that if a long-term deal doesn’t get done, the forward may decline to sign the qualifying offer.
Back surgery forced him to miss the beginning of last season, as well, and he appeared in only 37 games. Houston actually traded him to the Detroit Pistons at the trade deadline, only to have the deal nixed when Motiejunas failed a physical. The 25-year-old struggled in fairly limited action in 2015-2016, averaging 6.2 points and 2.9 rebounds per game while connecting on just 28.1 percent of his three-point attempts.
Still, new Rockets’ head coach Mike D’Antoni has reportedly already met with Motiejunas over the summer and promised him a sizable role. He was in the midst of a breakout 2014-2015 season at the time he initially suffered the back injury, averaging 12 points and nearly six rebounds per game in about 29 minutes a night. He also hit 36.8 percent of his threes that season, making him a perfect fit in D’Antoni’s offense when he is healthy.
Houston is looking to rebound from a fairly dismal all-around season. They still managed to sneak into the playoffs, but were easily dispatched by the Golden State Warriors in five games. General manager Daryl Morey has shuffled the roster a bit, bringing in free agents Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon and Nene in addition to hiring D’Antoni.
The Rockets open the regular season on Oct. 26 in Los Angeles against the Lakers.