Rockets renounce rights to Donatas Motiejunas, end contract saga

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Rockets renounce rights to Donatas Motiejunas
0:51 | NBA
Rockets renounce rights to Donatas Motiejunas
Friday December 16th, 2016

The Houston Rockets renounced their rights to forward Donatas Motiejunas on Thursday, ending a drawn-out contract saga and making the Lithuanian big man a free agent.

The Rockets matched a four-year, $37 million offer sheet Motiejunas signed with the Brooklyn Nets earlier in December, blocking Motiejunas, who was then a restricted free agent, from leaving. Motiejunas skipped his physical on Tuesday, according to multiple reports.  “We know our rights,” Motiejunas’s agent, B.J. Armstrong, told ESPN last week. “We don’t have a problem with the Rockets at all. We understand the rules fully.”

Houston originally agreed to trade Motiejunas to the Pistons last season just 11 months after he underwent back surgery, but the trade was voided after Motiejunas failed his physical. He became a restricted free agent after last season, and after a long contract holdout with the Rockets he finally signed with Brooklyn, before Houston matched.

“Donatas was a true professional throughout his four seasons with the Rockets,” said Morey.  “We wish Donatas the best moving forward and want to thank him for his contributions both on the court and in the community.”

Motiejunas is now an unrestricted free agent. Per free agency rules, he will not be permitted to sign with the Nets again this year because the Rockets matched their offer, USA Today’s Jeff Zilgitt reports, unless the league decides otherwise upon review. Since Motiejunas went unsigned past Nov. 23, he could not be traded.

The 26-year-old was the 20th pick in the 2011 draft out of Lithuania, and debuted with the Rockets in 2012–13. After averaging 12 points in 28.7 minutes per game in 2014–15, he saw the floor for an average of just 14.8 minutes last season, posting 6.2 points and 2.9 rebounds.

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