The Houston Rockets matched the Brooklyn Nets’ offer sheet and retained restricted free agent Donatas Motiejunas, league sources told The Vertical.
The Rockets met the Monday deadline for matching the sheet, informing the Nets that they would keep the 7-footer, league sources said.
Before Motiejunas, 26, resumes practice with the Rockets to prepare for his season debut, he still has to undergo a physical, league sources said.
Houston released guard Bobby Brown to clear a roster spot for Motiejunas, a league source said.
The Nets signed Motiejunas to a partially guaranteed four-year deal that will likely be worth $35 million, which turned out to be a relatively painless financial hit for the Rockets. For the Nets, it was a low-risk gamble to gain an asset and a bid that had no downside.
The terms of the offer sheet were rife with protections against recurring back problems that have sidelined Motiejunas.
The deal guarantees Motiejunas $5 million, and the Rockets have to decide by Jan. 10 whether to pay him another $3.5 million for the remainder of the 2016-17 season, league sources said.
By March 1, the team has to pick up the option for $9 million owed to Motiejunas for the 2017-18 season, sources said.
The final two years of the contract are non-guaranteed, league sources said, which means the team can cut Motiejunas loose without paying the balance of the contract. Before the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons, there’s a July 7 trigger date to make a decision on Motiejunas’ deal. Each of the four years includes $1 million in likely bonuses, and $500,000 in unlikely bonuses, sources said.
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 is the third restricted free agent offer sheet executed under Marks that has been matched after July offers to Portland guard Allen Crabbe (four years, $75 million) and Miami guard Tyler Johnson (four years, $50 million).
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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