The New Orleans Pelicans and big man Donatas Motiejunas have agreed to terms on a one-year deal at the veteran’s minimum, the team announced on its Twitter account on Tuesday. The signing was initially reported by ESPN’s Marc Stein. The Pelicans cut Reggie Williams on Sunday to clear a roster spot.
The New Orleans Pelicans have signed free agent forward/center Donatas Motiejunas.— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) January 3, 2017
Press Release: https://t.co/TvVzUPwMIZ pic.twitter.com/yzDNKNS4Vj
Motiejunas’ signing with New Orleans ended a months-long holdout by the 26-year-old Lithuanian. The 7’0 forward/center from Lithuania played his last four seasons with the Houston Rockets, but the two teams were unable to resolve a lingering contract dispute this summer. Because Motiejunas was a restricted free agent, he had little leverage in the situation.
Motiejunas was originally traded to the Pistons last February, but the team nixed the deal after his physical revealed concerns with a back injury. At the start of December, still unsigned, Motiejunas signed a deal with the Brooklyn Nets. When the Rockets chose to match, he refused to report to the team, and Houston eventually rescinded his restricted free agency status so he could sign unhindered.
This is a no-brainer for the Pelicans, who have nothing to lose by hanging out a one-year contract at the minimum to someone who has been a solid NBA player throughout his career so far. He’ll be able to play with Anthony Davis or help bolster the team’s offense when the superstar big man isn’t on the floor.
Motiejunas only played 37 games last season because of injury, but he averaged 12 points and 5.9 rebounds in 71 games the year prior.