After the Houston Rockets matched the Brooklyn Nets’ offer sheet and retained restricted free agent Donatas Motiejunas, the 7-footer is refusing to report for his physical exam and return to the team.
“We won’t be reporting,” agent B.J. Armstrong of Wasserman Media Group told The Vertical.
Armstrong informed Rockets general manager Daryl Morey of the decision on Tuesday morning.
The move comes less than 24 hours after the Rockets matched the base of a four-year, $31 million offer sheet. Houston had been expecting Motiejunas, 26, to show up on Tuesday morning to undergo and pass a physical exam needed to sign and activate him. Motiejunas refused and has no intention of rejoining the Rockets, Armstrong said.
If Motiejunas continues to stay away, the Rockets have two options: leave open the current agreement and wait him out, or cancel the deal and return Motiejunas to restricted free agency. Under league rules, the Nets are unable to sign Motiejunas for a full year.
The Nets signed Motiejunas to a partially guaranteed four-year deal that could’ve been worth $35 million. The $4 million-plus in attainable bonus clauses in the Nets’ offer sheet weren’t applicable in the Rockets’ match. Ultimately, the base deal that Motiejunas would have had with Houston was worth $31 million if the Rockets picked up every option over the course of the four-year deal.
Once Motiejunas was unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension with the Rockets this summer, he could’ve signed a $4.4 million qualifying offer, played out the season and become an unrestricted free agent in July.
The deal had guaranteed Motiejunas $5 million, with the Rockets having to decide by Jan. 10 whether to pay him another $3.5 million for the remainder of the 2016-17 season.
By March 1, Houston had to pick up the option for $9 million owed to Motiejunas for the 2017-18 season. The final two years of the contract are non-guaranteed, which means the team can cut Motiejunas without paying the balance of the contract. Before the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons, there’s a July 10 trigger date to make a decision on Motiejunas’ deal.
For now, Motiejunas is rejecting those terms and moving himself into limbo again. Concerns over recurring back issues – which included surgery to repair a ruptured disk in 2015 – impacted the interest NBA teams had in signing Motiejunas to an offer sheet over the summer.
For the Nets, this was the third restricted free agent offer sheet executed under new general manager Sean Marks that had been matched after July offers to Portland guard Allen Crabbe (four years, $75 million) and Miami guard Tyler Johnson (four years, $50 million). Brooklyn had nothing to lose with the offer sheet on Motiejunas.
The Rockets had a three-way trade that would’ve sent Motiejunas to Detroit voided last season. The Pistons’ doctors failed Motiejunas on his physical exam because of the back.
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