The Houston Rockets tried to make a deadline trade to free up luxury tax issues and get draft picks. The team sent Donatas Motiejunas to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for a first-round draft pick, but the deal was voided following back concerns for the power forward. According to Shams Charnaria of The Vertical, Motiejunas failed the physical and now the Rockets are back over the luxury tax line.
The Rockets are now projected to pay over $4 million in taxes, something they were hoping to avoid. The question is now what the future holds for the power forward who has barely played this season with back issues. His contract is not easy to buy out which has left general manager Daryl Morey to state that Motiejunas will remain with the team for the rest of the season.
"We are obviously disappointed in this result for the Rockets and Donatas, but as I publicly said when we announced the trade, we were not looking to move Donatas," Morey said, via the Houston Chronicle. "We only pursued this trade because of how the draft pick involved fit into our future planning for the team."
Morey told the Chronicle that the luxury tax issue was not going to be a problem for the franchise and the team was comfortable with the roster the way it is. This is the second time Morey has had to make this commitment to his players. When Dwight Howard was not traded, Morey defended the presence of the center while saying the same for Ty Lawson. The point guard is not seeing playing time after not getting traded, but is expected to stay put regardless.
According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, the Rockets are still weighing the idea of buying out the contract of Lawson, but it is not expected at this point. The team attempted to trade the point guard to the Utah Jazz, but the deal fell through leaving Lawson on the roster. Now he is left to compete with Patrick Beverley and Jason Terry on the court. The Rockets are confident Lawson can figure things out.
"We've had conversations with him, but we have to give him an opportunities," Rockets interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff said, via the Houston Chronicle. "He's got to play. He's got to play with the ball in his hands. That's when he's at his best. We have to put him on the floor and we have to put the ball in his hands. We have to give him space, we have to give him confidence. We have to give him freedom. The message to everybody has been this is a new season. Do what you do."