The Detroit Pistons have reportedly decided to void a trade that would have sent Houston Rockets forward Donatas Motiejunas and Marcus Thornton to Detroit in exchange for Joel Anthony and a protected first-round pick.
Shams Charania of The Vertical reported that the deal is "in the process" of being voided, citing sources. Charania's colleague Adrian Wojnarowski confirmed the decision, saying the Pistons won't pass him on his physical. Wojnarowski first reported the agreement on Feb. 18.
Motiejunas, 25, is averaging 5.6 points and 2.1 rebounds per game this season. He has been limited to just 14 games due to ongoing back issues.
The fourth-year forward has not played in an NBA game since Dec. 31, appearing in four games for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the D-League while getting back into shape. Rockets interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff hinted that Motiejunas was nearing a return after the All-Star break, as noted by Feigen:
I think it's better now because he had those games in the D-League. He was able to play extended minutes. From those minutes, he was able to get some sort of a rhythm. Obviously, it's going to take more than three games to do that. But I think he's in a better spot now, having played those 20-plus minutes [per game] in the D-League than those six minutes he was getting when he came back the first time.
Motiejunas has been slow to recover from a microdiscectomy procedure on his back in April.
The last time Motiejunas was healthy, he appeared to be developing into a solid stretch 4. He averaged a career-high 12 points and 5.9 rebounds per game in 2014-15, shooting 50.4 percent overall and 36.8 percent from three-point range. The combination of Motiejunas and Terrence Jones gave Houston a solid one-two punch at power forward and generated a good mix with Dwight Howard.
The deal for Motiejunas was a gamble on his health, and after evaluating the forward, Stan Van Gundy clearly thought the risk was too high to warrant giving up his first-round draft pick.
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