Is Donatas Motiejunas headed to the Los Angeles Lakers? There are several indicators that point to the Lakers and the possibility of a Motiejunas signing. Something could get done very quickly if the reports are accurate.
An interesting development is taking place with the Los Angeles Lakers. One of the rumors suggests that the Lakers have shown some considerable interest in Donatas Motiejunas.
After some acrimonious and tense negotiations with the team that retains his rights, the Houston Rockets, Donatas Motiejuans is currently without an NBA team. The Rockets had originally handed Motiejunas a qualifying offer, rendering him a restricted free agent and allowing them the right to match any deal he received within 72 hours.
Motiejunas signed a multi-year deal with the Brooklyn Nets before the Rockets matched. More acrimony followed. The deal with the Nets was for four years and $37 million, which included $6 million incentives. When the Rockets matched the Nets’ offer sheet, they only took on the principal amount of $31 million.
Donatas Motiejunas refused to report to Houston, and eventually, the Rockets gave in, rescinded their offer, and made him an unrestricted free agent. He is guaranteed to receive some interest from several NBA clubs.
Now, it is being reported by ESPN’s Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne that the Los Angeles Lakers have brought Donatas Motiejunas in for a workout. The workout with the Lakers took place before Christmas. An injury to power forward Larry Nance Jr. is why the Lakers have an interest in Motiejunas.
The Los Angeles Lakers brass walked away from his workout feeling impressed. They could come to a decision by the end of the week.
In the wake of Larry Nance's injury, the Lakers brought in free agent F Donatas Motiejunas for an audition, but didn't immediately sign him— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) December 28, 2016
Larry Nance Jr. will miss at least four weeks, according to the Los Angeles Times. He is dealing with a bone bruise that he suffered in a game against the Charlotte Hornets. He was going after a loose ball when was bumped by Hornets’ center Cody Zeller.
“He kind of bumped me, all in fair game, just running after the ball. I went to push back with him. He wasn’t there. I don’t know what happened. When I went to push and didn’t feel anybody there, I felt a little tweak in my knee and pulled up and stopped and couldn’t put too much pressure on it so that’s when I asked those guys to get me off the court.”
Nance is a prototypical power forward for the Lakers, but his potential short-term replacement has a different skill set.
Donatas Motiejunas is an outside shooter with some nifty post moves. He could help any team, including the Lakers.
The Los Angeles Lakers could use some outside shooting from their frontcourt players. Julius Randle has some outside touch, but his 21 percent three-point shooting is the lowest among Lakers’ players who have taken 15 or more shots from long distance. If the Lakers were to add Motiejunas, he could become their designated stretch-forward. Bringing him on board could create some concerns for the Lakers.
Playing time will be a tricky proposition for the Los Angeles Lakers’ coaching staff if they sign Motiejunas.
Julius Randle is the starting power forward and will not be unseated.
The Lakers are enamored with Tarik Black, and they will find some playing time for him at either power forward or center. Where will Motiejunas fit?
And once Larry Nance Jr. returns, a conundrum is created. That is unless the Los Angeles Lakers make a trade.
Trading a player is not completely out of the question given the interest that the Minnesota Timberwolves have in small forward Luol Deng. An addition of Donatas Motiejunas, who can play some small forward, coupled with a Deng trade would lessen the Lakers’ burden.
Other teams could also give Motiejunas a look, including the Chicago Bulls, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Washington Wizards. That may hasten the Los Angeles Lakers’ decision. If the Lakers believe that Donatas Motiejunas is a fit and can devise a plan to distribute minutes amongst the incumbent frontcourt players, he will be signed sooner rather than later.
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