Donatas Motiejunas, Spurs Agree to Contract Ahead of 2019 NBA Playoffs

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistApril 4, 2019

BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 02:  Donatas Motiejunas #12 of ShanDong Hi-Speed in action during the 2017/2018 CBA League match between Beijing Ducks and ShanDong Hi-Speed at Shougang Basketball Center Gymnasium on November 2, 2017 in Beijing, China.  (Photo by XIN LI/Getty Images)
Fred Lee/Getty Images

The San Antonio Spurs and forward Donatas Motiejunas officially agreed to a contract Thursday. 

Motiejunas, 28, has been with the Shandong Golden Stars of the Chinese Basketball Association since 2017. He averaged 27.3 points, 14.0 rebounds and 4.2 assists this season, emerging as one of the best players not currently in the NBA.

Injuries derailed Motiejunas' first stint in the NBA. A 2011 first-round pick, Motiejunas came over in 2012 and spent his first four seasons with the Houston Rockets. He dealt with periodic back issues throughout that time but flashed as an offensive stretch 4 with facilitating ability when on the floor.

The Brooklyn Nets signed Motiejunas to a four-year, $37 million offer sheet in 2016 that the Rockets initially matched. However, the two sides had a dispute over the language of the contract, and Motiejunas held out into the 2016-17 season. When they ultimately came to an agreement, Motiejunas failed his physical and the Rockets rescinded their offer.

Motiejunas then signed with the New Orleans Pelicans but spent only 34 games with the franchise. He then went to China in an attempt to revive his career. 

"Everything depends on the right opportunity," Motiejunas told Lithuanian outlet 15 MIN, per Jeff Garcia of News4 San Antonio. "That's why I go to a team that I think I would most like. If I go, why not stay there for much less money? However, the Spurs are a team that has surprised its fans with titles, coaches and games for many years. Being part of it is unreal for me. I think every European who has come to the NBA would like to become part of San Antonio Spurs. I think it's a dream for everyone."

Motiejunas said he had offers from the Denver Nuggets and Toronto Raptors in addition to San Antonio. He's expected to serve as a backup behind LaMarcus Aldridge and Jakob Poeltl. 

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