Potential Landing Spots for Houston Rockets Big Man Donatas Motiejunas
Houston Rockets sophomore big man Donatas Motiejunas, who has played just 8.4 minutes per game in 17 appearances for Houston this season, has reportedly been put on the trade block.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports via Twitter, the Rockets have been calling teams around the league in an attempt to trade the disgruntled 7-footer.
Motiejunas has been buried on the Rockets depth chart this season behind Terrence Jones and Omri Casspi. The 23-year-old Lithuanian showed promise during his rookie campaign in 2012-13—even starting 14 games—but he's fallen out of favor in head coach Kevin McHale's playing rotation.
The Rockets are reportedly trying to move him so he gets an opportunity for more playing time, and there are sure to be suitors looking to add the young talent.
Note: Although the potential landing spots are numbered for your convenience, they aren't listed in order of likelihood.
5. Utah Jazz
As a rebuilding team at the bottom of the Western Conference standings, the Utah Jazz may be interested in acquiring Motiejunas from Houston.
Jazz insider Ben Anderson of 1320 KFAN said via Twitter that Jazz fans should keep their eyes on the Motiejunas situation. And while that appears to be based purely on speculation, Utah would be smart to pick up a young player the Rockets have essentially given up on.
Motiejunas is not afraid to let it fly from the outside. He attempted 83 three-pointers as a rookie in just 44 games played, and while he shot just 28.9 percent from deep, he had the confidence to shoot when he got open looks.
He could be a nice long-term complement to Utah's big men: Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Rudy Gobert. All three of those young players thrive on the interior, while Motiejunas is comfortable away from the basket.
He only makes approximately $1.4 million this season and about $5.1 million overall through 2016-17. It won't be easy for any team to acquire that cheap deal while enticing Houston to pull the trigger on a trade, but a straight up swap for Jeremy Evans works from a financial standpoint.
4. Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors second unit has been an area of concern all season long.
After losing Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry to free agency last summer, G-State patched those losses with Marreese Speights, Toney Douglas and Jermaine O'Neal. Speights has struggled mightily (shooting 39.2 percent from the field), Douglas hasn't knocked down outside shots (31.5 percent) and O'Neal underwent wrist surgery.
All told, the Warriors bench ranks dead last in the NBA by scoring just 22.8 points per game, according to Hoops Stats.
Golden State needs to inject some life into its second unit, and Motiejunas may just be the guy to do it. The Warriors don't have many assets they can trade, so perhaps they'll aim to acquire the lanky big man via trade exception.
3. Washington Wizards
Much like the Golden State Warriors bench, the Washington Wizards second unit hasn't made much of an impact in 2013-14.
According to Hoops Stats, the Wizards bench ranks 27th in the NBA by scoring 24.2 points per game.
Jan Vesely continues to disappoint (although he's been better defensively), Al Harrington has been hurt and the bench unit as a whole has failed to take pressure off the starters.
As a result, adding a stretch 4 like Motiejunas to the fold could assist John Wall—who makes a living by penetrating to the basket.
If the Rockets added a throw-in contract like Aaron Brooks, they could trade for Trevor Booker, Kevin Seraphin, Chris Singleton or Vesely. All of those guys are in contract years, but they could help Houston in the short term while providing Washington with a fresh face.
2. Milwaukee Bucks
According to ESPN's Marc Stein via Twitter, the Milwaukee Bucks are poised to do "everything they can" to trade guard Gary Neal before the trade deadline.
Neal called out teammate Larry Sanders after a recent loss to the Phoenix Suns by yelling, "I earn my money. Why don't you try it?" according to Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. That falling-out likely forced Milwaukee's management to plan trades involving the former San Antonio Spurs player.
The Rockets have plenty of depth in the backcourt with James Harden, Jeremy Lin, Patrick Beverly, Francisco Garcia and Aaron Brooks. With that said, Neal played a vital role on a San Antonio team that made the NBA Finals a season ago. He could be a valuable addition if Houston is willing to play more small ball (as it has already).
The Bucks have a crowded frontcourt with plenty of talent, but they need young players as they're forced into the rebuilding process.
Houston would have to add an additional contract to acquire Neal, though, which may throw a monkey wrench into this landing spot.
1. Charlotte Bobcats
The Charlotte Bobcats desperately need to find some offense. They rank 27th in the NBA by scoring just 93.2 points per game, and while Motiejunas is still a young, raw talent, Charlotte could find a diamond in the rough by trading for him and giving him more playing time.
Cody Zeller, the fourth overall pick in the 2013 draft, has been a disappointment for Charlotte this year. Even as an athletic 7-footer, the Indiana product is shooting a lowly 36.5 percent from the floor. Again, the Bobcats need help.
As I've stated earlier, though, adding Motiejunas' cheap contract isn't going to be easy. The Bobcats can't dump Ben Gordon on Houston because he's set to make a whopping $13.2 million this season. Heck, even trading Josh McRoberts on his deal worth more than $2.6 million doesn't work out financially.
Both teams would have to add throw-in contracts to make a deal work out, but Charlotte should at least inquire about the Rockets big man.
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