Unrestricted free agent Donatas Motiejunas is reportedly close to an agreement with the New Orleans Pelicans. The 26-year-old power forward/center is expected to sign a one-year veteran minimum deal.
In December, the Houston Rockets renounced the rights to Donatas Motiejunas and let him become an unrestricted free agent. The decision came after Motiejunas refused to report for his physical exam. He initially received an offer sheet from the Brooklyn Nets but the Rockets matched the offer.
Several NBA teams expressed their interest to acquire the Lithuanian big man, including the Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves, and the New Orleans Pelicans. The Lakers invited Motiejunas for an audition but his future in Los Angeles became uncertain with the rise of Tarik Black and Thomas Robinson. However, after receiving an offer with the Pelicans, Motiejunas canceled his meeting with the Timberwolves.
DONATAS MOTIEJUNAS JOINING THE PELICANS
According to Marc Stein of ESPN, the Pelicans, who are restricted to offering a contract at the $1.1 million veterans minimum, intend to sign Donatas Motiejunas to a one-year deal. They waived veteran swingman Reggie Williams to create a roster spot. When healthy, Motiejunas proved to be a reliable big man who could be a good frontcourt partner with Anthony Davis.
In February, the Rockets tried to move Motiejunas to the Detroit Pistons in a three-team trade involving the Philadelphia 76ers. However, the Piston rescinded their trade after a physical examination revealed that Motiejunas has back injury. Still, the Lithuanian big man managed to contribute for the Rockets in his return.
In the Game 3 of their faceoff against the Golden State Warriors, Donatas Motiejunas posted a double-double, 14 points, and 13 rebounds. With his injury history, he struggled to receive interest from other teams being a restricted free agent. If Motiejunas officially signs with the Pelicans, he will reunite with former Rockets teammates Omer Asik and Terrence Jones.
Photo courtesy: @donatas_motiejunas/Instagram
Video courtesy: Youtube/Piotr Zarychta