In a bit of a twist I certainly did not see coming, the Lakers have worked out former Rockets big man Donatas Motiejunas. From ESPN’s Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne:
The Los Angeles Lakers have auditioned free-agent big man Donatas Motiejunas within the past week, according to league sources.
Sources told ESPN that the Lakers brought Motiejunas in before Christmas to work out in front of the front office and coaching staff, but it remains unclear whether they’ll go ahead with signing the former first-round pick.
Apparently, the hold up in potentially offering Montiejunas a contract has to do with the current depth in the front court and how that might disrupt current roles:
But sources said the Lakers are weighing whether there are enough minutes to go around, with the blossoming Julius Randle and Tarik Black playing the bulk of the frontcourt minutes while Nance is out.
The fact that the Lakers are still kicking the tires on available players and looking to add talent is a good thing. Regardless of how much they like the construction of the current team, adding talented players who fit the team’s scheme should always be on the table — and Montiejunas certainly fits that description.
As a stretch big man who can play PF and, in some instances, some small ball C he would fill the role that the team had pegged Yi before he asked for his release after the preseason and before the final cuts. It’s not clear how much Montiejunas would play and, just like the concerns I had about the team potentially keeping Yi, I would have questions about how he fits and how much he would play when the roster was completely healthy. After all, the team is already jamming 4 players (Mozgov, Randle, Nance, and Black) into 96 front court minutes so adding a 5th guy would be pushing the limits of lineup construction while keeping everyone happy.
There is also the fact that the Lakers have a full roster and would need to waive a player to accommodate a Montiejunas signing. When looking at the roster, the most logical choice to cut would likely be Marcelo Huertas. While Metta and Thomas Robinson have non-guaranteed contracts, they both likely have a bit more value in terms of leadership (Metta) and ability to play a viable role (Robinson) than Huertas who has not been in the rotation and, technically, is 4th on the depth chart at PG behind Russell, Calderon, and Lou (or Ingram, depending on how you view the lineup construction).
Of course, all of this is getting ahead of ourselves. As being reported, the Lakers haven’t made a move yet and might not based on several factors. Still, I like that they’re looking and that they still may find ways to upgrade the team with more talent. We’ll see how things go.
A Horse With No Name says
I wrote a post some weeks back calling for the lakers to consider a Montiejunas signing before the Nets offer happened. This guy is a much bigger talent (if he can stay healthy!) than either Black or Robinson. We only need one of them. My guess is that the lakers are giving Robinson some run to see if he can be effective in Black’s role. (Looks pretty good.) If management agrees with me on Robinson’s performance, we may see Black getting traded (good kick the tires trade for a prospective team, as the second year of Black’s deal is a team option). This likely would open the door to a Montiejunas signing, with the cap room garnered from the dealing of Black. We shall see.
I just don’t see room for another PF. Where do you get minutes with a healthy Nance/Randle. Guys like Deng, Black and Robinson can all play PF and serve various PF roles.
Then there’s the back injury red flag. I’m not convinced he fills a pressing need that justifies the risk/reward.
It looks like the Lakers are looking to the Rockets for their rejected bigs. Motiejunas started out with lots of promise and a good post up game and then developed back problems. The main reason he left Houston was due to a salary dispute. Unless he is willing to work for much less money, Motiejunas is unlikely to dress up for the Lakers.
A Horse With No Name says
Vasheed The thing is that DM does things that these other guys cannot do, and they are very valuable in today’s game. He a 4/5 along the lines of Ryan Anderson with some rim protection skills and solid fundamentals–a pretty nice fit for Luke’s offense. I agree with Fred (above) that the deal would have to be favorable for the lakers to sign him. And frankly, given his injury history, that may be the best deal he can get now.
new rr says
A Horse With No Name Vasheed
Anderson’s career 3p% is .380 and he takes about half his shots from the arc. Motiejunas’ career 3p% is .308. He shot .368 from the arc in 2014-15 but has been below 30% each of the other three years that he has played. Houston spent 80M on Anderson, who is basically D’Antoni’s Platonic ideal of a Stretch 4. 60% of Anderson’s FGAs under D’Antoni have been 3s, and his percentage on them at the moment is .421.
injuries to Nance and Black must be concerning to the FO for them to have interest in Motiejunas.
He showed promise in the 14/15 season as he averaged 12 pts and 6 rebs in 28 minutes
per game. However, he played in only 37 games last year, due to his back
injury — posting essentially career worst stats at 6 pts and 3 rebs in 15 minutes. He was traded to Detroit during the season and he failed the physical causing the deal to fall through.
He is a career .308 shooter
from the 3 pt line and shot .612 from the free throw line. He’s lighter than
Nance. At 222 pounds he’s more of a 4 than a 5. The fact
that he’s been available for a while and no one has pursued him makes me think
the back is worse than he is letting on.
As much as we like to think
otherwise these current Lakers aren’t the top choice for vets with real game and who
want to win now. My gut says pass on him.
new rr says
I put a couple of those same numbers in my post below. Also, Motiejunas’ career 3PAR is .252, so he has taken 25% of his career FGs from the arc. I think if Walton wants a Stretch 4 letting Deng try to fill that role might be something to think about. Deng is trying 37% of his shots from the arc under Walton and hitting at .330.
Some of you act as though Tarik Black is the second coming. LOL. Black is what he is – a low-talent, undersized center energy player. Nothing more. Nothing less. Thomas Robinson has ALREADY replaced him, which wasn’t that difficult to do in the first place. Lol. Smh. The Lakers can feel free to trade Black for a second rounder and a cheese burger from Red Robin anytime now. Lol. Dontas Motiejunas is a superior player to either Black or Robinson, in all honesty and it’s not even close. While you’re all looking at his low three-point shooting percentage, why don’t you all bother to look at his tremendous post-up game, great footwork and terrific passing ability? Who cares if he shoots 30 percent from three-point range when he has all of these other outstanding skills? That’s all the more reason why some of shouldn’t bother to audition for NBA general managers’ positions. Lol. The ONLY thing that should be holding up signing this guy is his health. If dude is 100 percent healthy, you sign him and give thanks to the basketball gods, because this guy has better post-up moves and footwork than anyone else on this roster now and that INCLUDES 19-year-old Ivica Zubac. Motiejunas just turned 26-years-old and is just now entering the prime of his career. The Lakers would be very wise to sign him to a contract if he’s 100 percent healthy. Of course, being the wishy-washy franchise that the Lakers have been over these past three years, they’ll find a way to screw up such a good opportunity.
A Horse With No Name says
new rr A Horse With No Name Vasheed Good stuff. I guess if you are evaluating DM, and looking at his stats positively, you are likely to believe he can hit 36% or better, particularly in a system (luke’s) that is going to generate more wide open threes than the McHale offense he was in.
Obviously Sean Marks, who’s already showing great intelligence in building a roster out of crumbs, thought enough of DM’s skill set to make him a significant offer. I think that’s a strong signal that this guy can be a very valuable player.
A Horse With No Name says
RoderickRedus Good post. The talent comparison is spot on: there’s no comparison. It’s about his health and the risk/reward calculus. As far as his 3 point shooting percentage, it will likely improve under a better offense than the one he was in Houston (McHale)– a point I made below.
Sounds like many here have already formed emotional attachment to the current roster. No all-
stars here, no untradeables on this team. If Motiejunas is healthy, passes the physical (he did in
Houston) & a financial agreement (3 years, no more) can be reached, Lakers should sign him.
Bottom line: he’s a better big than anyone the Lakers have except Randle…and Mozgov.
Zubac can develop in D-League & T. Robinson can be waived. Once Nance Jr returns. Black &
Motiejunas will compete for playing time. Loser sits. Lakers can’t afford to let this opportunity
pass. It’s a small but positive step in team improvement.
Guy’s only 26, and fits our team’s timeline. Hoping it happens.
Robinsons value has surpassed blacks… Black is undersized.. I do like his motor, but he has poor hands… at this point , you cant trade black for a 2nd rndr..were has TRob could help in a package and looks desirable right now.. Ive always liked Donatas …He would be a great fit in the offense has played some SF in the right matchups, obviously can play the PF.. I would say more of Randle playing the Five and Donatas playn the four…but I suppose you could make a case he could play the five in some small ball instances… You also think about Roster spots nxt season.. Metta back? TROB back? Zubac ready? (probably not)
If we are also being honest, Nance is slightly injury prone..some to no fault of his own..he may always have problems with his joints and knees…( look into his health issues with his growth plates)
Excellent post. I was indifferent to the Lakers interest on DM but you have actually have picked my interest on him. Tarik Black os a scrub easily replaceable i actially ñike Robinson better. But i wouldn’t give him a 3 year contract just like that. He could be signed only for the rest of the season and then we will see.
I disagree with you. I keep hearing oh you guys act like Black is a super player. That’s a pile of you know what. Fact has been that Luke’s most effective line-ups have featured a PF at Center. This is disappointing in that I think Mozgov has played well and I’m really interested in seeing Zubac’s potential. T-Rob has filled in admirably for Black. However, Black has two big advantages over T-Rob. Black is a lot stronger and weighs almost 15 pounds more. This allows him to hold space against big Centers like Mozgov who weigh over 270. Secondly, Black has drastically improved his free throw shooting this year which makes him not a liability on the floor to close out games. Black is not a superstar and on most teams he is just an average player. In Luke’s line-ups though he is a significant roleplayer that fits the system being run.
Wait the reason we have been losing all these games is because Tarik Black has been out….right? Lol…I would have traded him a long time ago but the question is who wants him?
Travis Y says
The reality is that we are ranked 23 out of 30. We need to always be open to improving our team. I see Robinson and Black as interchangeable energy guys. However, I don’t see Metta as a player. Waive him and make him an assistant like he already is.
If you haven’t noticed, our team is injury prone and we need more depth, not only for games, but also for practices. I’d still keep the rotation to 10 players and let the best units run.
Bottom line, let’s take a chance on Don if he’s healthy.
Yup Sid, sign him even if he is not 100% if he is like 80. Nurse him back to health and be ready for next year. The Lakers are trying to push this team along before they are ready. Wait a year and keep developing the youngsters , trade away veteran assests for more picks, grab our picks & stash DM. Now thats a discernible plan! Alas, I’m afraid the FO might be evaluating this opportunity with a “we got to make the playoffs thi year” mimindset. Which might not bode well meaning they probably won’t sign him if they don’t feel he can help us in the present. Very short sighted focus because Jimbo & Mitch are feeling the heat of “the promise”.
_ Robert _ says
Whatever we do we should not commit to any long term contracts that will end up being a ball and chain around our ankle when we actually try to change the roster to be contenders. We already have a couple of those. We can’t sign speculative players to multi year deals. We can’t sign role players to multi year deals. You sign role players when you are already good. You take chances on guys that you sign for one year, because if they do not turn out – then you are free after one year. Taking gambles on multi year deals are what bad teams have done for decades in the NBA. We wasted too much of our cap last summer. And in Donatas Motiejunas, case – he has injury issues making it more speculative. We need talent – but we need to gather it in an intelligent way.
new rr says
The only reason to sign Motiejunas is if Walton wants a big who is at least a nominal threat from the arc. Nance, Randle, Black and Robinson have taken a total of 32 3s among them, all year, and made 6.
Vasheed RyanSMarkel dang.. I had this whole long nice thing typed up and computer crash… have to simpfly…
Were are you getting your up to date weigh ins?
(Btw, all in good convo…great discussion…)
You do realize that players dont update height and weight right? I mean the NBA had to step in with Tarik blacks camp and take him from 6’11 to his real height of 6’9.. Devin booker has grown from 6’6 to 6.7/6.75..DLO is no longer 6’5.. Giannis is no longer 6’11, he is 7’1.. TROB put on 15 pnds of muscle in off season and its not reflected… brook lopez has lost weight.. thats not reflected..and there are maybe six total centers who are even worth game planning for ( maybe ) ..that are over 270… there is a 13 pound difference in TROB and Black(thats without weight up dates).. TROB is taller by 2 inch’s.. and he has always played PF.(stretch 4/he used to be slimmer yes).. without seeing them in practice or in the weight room, its impossible to make an open ended statement, that HE IS STRONGER… when pretty evident, they are both strong and both hold space, especially with TRobs height advantage.. Black is not holding space against Brook Lopez 275 and 7’1 ..but he has a speed advantage.. which is what the whole NBA is doing.. not just Luke…its why vucivic is edged out by Biz.. to slow.. its why the rockets got better letting DH go..and why an injury to capela.. just allows them to play Harrerl a PF at Center and why Nene plays Center and not PF, its why the hawks who brought in howard, are actually worse defensively then they were with horford..to slow, clogs lane …its why the warriors play Durant and Green at Center…its why when the bucks go small, Giannis plays Center, which is why we are lettting Ingram handle the ball so much, so he becomes a Durant/Giannis type that can play and defend 1-5…
Black has never been a PF…he has always been a center.. although yes his 20% spike in FT% is great if he needs to stay on the floor..although his poor hands make him turnover prone late in games, when defense and the whistle tightens up. but I can give you good leadership, hard worker, like I said..great motor
I like zubac, but he would have been stashed overseas for two yrs like Zikic ( who is more polished ) on any other team. He will be in the DLeague for two yrs, with hopes of his 3rd yr, being the yr he gets on the floor for maybe 20 mins.. and thats if Randle, Nance, Moz, dont eat up all the mins at the five…and black doesnt come back ( 2yr deal now )
So with that two yr deal in the equation, and TROBS contract and his better hands.. His value is better on the market.. If teams were making a deal today and either black or TRob had to be put in to make $$ work… its TRob not black who gets the deal done…
So TRobs value, inmho has surpassed the value of black..not that black is worthless and the rest of the nation is acting like he is superstar.. and nor is it just “lukes” lineups..its a smarter coach then scott and he is doing what the rest of the NBA is doing and what he saw working 1st hand
This is not a well written after doing it twice lol.. have a good one man..
LordMo Yeah.. im good with dealing Lou and swaggy ( hopefully same package..grab some 2nd rndrs, get some draft and stash..and maybe a couple other young controllable 3 yr deal guys that have promise on a contenders team) Boston anyone.. id take Rozier, Jerbeko, Zizic (zubacs Former teammate), and two 2nd rndrs.. ( Jerbeko, for those that dont know..has to be included for money purposes along with one more)
mattal he actually was pursued… the nets put out an offer sheet.. then houston kinda blocked… about two weeks ago now…
new rr mattal agree with this.. and right now.. the better shooter out of all them is TRob who is Marvin Williams type who just couldnt latch on.. he switched his game up though a little bit this yr and bulked up to play the small ball center position ( he is 6’11 tho) Nance I still say has come into the league with a better J then Blake Griffin… but confidence is wanning on it (eventually I think he becomes a pretty damn good shooter)..but at least he is now going to the rack harder…
Randle may end up being one of those guys who can shoot the three from two spots better then he can he hit his midrange game ( taking into consideration, he shoots more from midrange at multiple spots albeit hesitantly right now, and miss’s more) From the top of the key and the RH side facing camera( going east) and top of the key facing opposite of camera going west down the court) his three pointers seem to hit at least when they matter lol
Vasheed Heres another thing.. especially since the lakers ( and the rest of the nba is moving to this philosophy) its POSTIONLESS basketball..
We could have a lineup of Ingram, Russell, Randle, Deng, Nance/Moz/ROB/Black
Black cant play the four really.. he cant hit a jumper ..which is why he has always been a undersized UDFA Center outta of Kansas and he doesnt have great hands.. TRob can play the Four, Randle, Nance, and Deng.. its due diligence and the lakers should bring in guys that other teams at the bottom I.E. the Nets are bringing in and offer contracts too…im not gonna spell his name right..but pappagiannis is another one.. and one I would take a longer look at then D.M.. because of injury history
A Horse With No Name Vasheed agree with this… black cant play PF for one…limits the ability to shoot the ball down to three guys when he plays PF spot… also D.M. has played SF.. against guys like MKG… we also are grooming a kid to become the next 7 foot PG who can guard and play 1-5.. we have at this time FIVE ball handlers not counting nick.. DLO, Clark, Lou, Randle, Ingram… Ingram wasnt ready for the weak side spot up role…handling the ball more… Randle is our Point Forward.. our D.Green.. our LBJ ( without the jumper or vision yet.. like a hybrid ZBo who can dribble and pass )
So we need some guys who dont need the ball to be creative or to make the offense run.. we need a few spot up shooters.. and few more guys who when we get bad switchs on defense can post up…. DM can do that… black can not… DM can make another PF or Center chase him to the line…black, nance and even randle cant do that right now… it was why A. Brown was so important.. we need a guy who could just stroke it….so now we need a few fill ins, especially if nance is gonna be protected because of his growth plate issue that he may always have in knees
Vasheed RyanSMarkel here was walton just saidhttps://pbs.twimg.com/media/C03tZcOUQAAv82a.jpg
Black is a physical player, and a good pick n roll player
Montiejunes is another non Defense player
matt24 Black is as physical as a 6’9 center can be.. he is a vocal team defensive leader on the floor in that he trys to communicate, but young… and locker room leader, but its well known that TRob has been speaking out in the locker too.especially about defense.. Black is good at setting screens, but he is not that effective in the P & R.. because unless both defensive players crash to the ball handler, he cant out leap, and he cant push his way into the lane… He is excellent in transition and good when numbers are in our favor…but watch closely nxt time he plays.. watch how many pass’s he fumbles, drops, double grasps for…or pass’s he has to bat down, grab with two hands and then try to go back up after the defense has collapsed.. not saying he is not useful in spots, especially bringing in energy guys..but he is not that athletic nor nimble on the perimeter( currently our defense switch’s on everything ) so he becomes a liability on the perimeter, whereas, TRob, does not because of length and lateral quickness…
Also, like I stated… black is only good on the P & R.. with no other option then him rolling… he cant pop like TRob… so he is really only running the ROLL… not the whole pick and Roll with options… heck he is a worse shooter then Steven Adams… which is why kanter is good option for the thunder, because he can run the whole P&R; package ( which has other options built into it, its not just ROLL)
matt24 actual DWS numbers would say, that, that statement is incorrect…he is better then Black