NBA

Donatas Motiejunas faces uncertain future with Lakers as Julius Randle, Tarik Black ‘blossoms’

By Peter Erick Magbanua@dakelsmb on
Donatas Motiejunas faces uncertain future with Lakers as Julius Randle, Tarik Black ‘blossoms’
The Lakers are still uncertain whether to sign Donatas Motiejunas with the performance put up by Julius Randle and Tarik Black.

Donatas Motiejunas reported flown to Los Angeles for a workout with the Lakers just before Christmas. The Lakers are still uncertain whether to sign Motiejunas with the performance put up by Julius Randle and Tarik Black.

ESPN reports that the Lakers wants to add depth to their rotation considering the injured Larry Nance Jr. With a thin rotation with their big men, the Lakers are still contemplating whether to give Motiejunas that the chance. Motiejunas is a free agent after getting into a contract stalemate with the Houston Rockets.

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However, the added minutes were given to Randle and Black plus how they have responded adds weight to the Lakers’ decision. The Lakers managed to thrive without Nance due to a bone bruise in his left knee. Randle, Black, and other reserves, including Thomas Robinson stepped up their game.

What Motiejunas could bring to the Lakers?

The 26-year old Lithuanian brings bulk and height, considering he is a 7-footer inside the paint. But his history of back injuries made him unmarketable for rival teams, a case the Detroit Pistons raised last Feb.

It was one aspect which got him into trouble with the Rockets this season. Although Motiejunas’ camp stated that differences in contract deals turned the talks sour in the end. Motiejunas’ camp claimed that the Brooklyn Nets offered their client $37 million for a four-year contract which the Rockets matched. However, the Rockets only matched the principal terms of the offer sheet.

As both parties tried to arrange for a new contract, which ranges around $35 and $37 million including bonuses. However, Motiejunas did not show up for the Rockets causing a contract stalemate. The Rockets ended up renouncing their deal and rights on Motiejunas making him a free agent.

Despite averaging 6.2 points and 2.9 rebounds a game, a healthy Motiejunas could also explode with breakout games. Motiejunas recorded a double-double performance (14 points and 13 rebounds) in their first-round series last season with the Golden State Warriors. Teams tend to forget his capabilities which make him work under the radar and give his team the needed points.

Randle, Black, and Robinson will do for the Lakers?

Having Nance out for four weeks, the Lakers thrive with what they have as Randle, Black, and Robinson is contributing. Randle, for one, has risen to the occasion averaging 14.0 points and 8.3 rebounds in his last eight games.

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Luke Walton told NBA.com Randle to give the Lakers a new “dimension” as he can guard and push down the ball. Walton acknowledges the contribution that Randle has given the team, including his defense as well.

Meanwhile, Black and Robinson both proved their worth as well in the rotation, thus giving the Lakers quality minutes. With all these factors in consideration, the Lakers will have to dig deep if getting Motiejunas would be the right decision to make. Having a thin big man rotation might cause problems for the Lakers along the way.

Photo Courtesy: Donatas Motiejunas and Hasheem Thabeet.jpg/Creative Commons

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