Should the Charlotte Hornets Take a Chance on Donatas Motiejunas?

In an attempt to add talent and strengthen their roster, the Charlotte Hornets may want to take a low-risk, high reward move in signing D-Mo.

While the Charlotte Hornets already have plenty of big men on the team, giving Donatas Motiejunas a look could pay out in the long run. The former Houston Rockets‘ big man has been put through the ringer over the past few years as he has dealt with a combination of injuries contract disputes. Now that he is finally an unrestricted free agent, D-Mo can sign with any team in the NBA, save the Brooklyn Nets and the Rockets.

Motiejunas’ story began last season when he was traded to the Detroit Pistons at the trade deadline but the trade was rescinded after he failed a physical. He ended up playing in only 37 games last year for the Rockets and was a restricted free agent this past summer. Despite being a productive player, no team wanted to take a risk on the stretch four and he showed no signs of wanting to return to Houston.

Instead, his free agency went into the regular season. The Brooklyn Nets decided to take a chance on Donatas as they signed him to a four-year, $37 million deal but when Houston matched the offer sheet, D-Mo did not report to the Rockets to sign the deal over a dispute in incentives. After that deal was lifted, Houston signed Motiejunas to a four-year $31 million deal but after a suspected problem with his physical, the team finally decided to make him an unrestricted free agent.

Now that he can finally workout for other teams and sign with whoever he wants, suitors have already begun to look at the 26-year old big man. The Los Angeles Lakers have already worked him out but did not sign him. More teams are sure to follow suit. Are the Charlotte Hornets going to be one of those teams to give him a shot?

Not likely. But it isn’t impossible.

The Hornets aren’t one to mess with team chemistry but with Frank Kaminsky‘s struggles as the backup power forward, D-Mo could be a like for like replacement and could offer more than Kaminsky does this season.

Two years ago, Motiejunas got ample playing time with Houston and put up 12 PPG, and 5.9 RPG. He also shot 50.4% from the field and 36.8% from the three-point line. Each of these numbers is better than what Frank is currently averaging this season. It may have been back in the 2014-15 season but those numbers could be a realistic expectation for Donatas.

Here’s a look at what he brings to the table:

The biggest question surrounding D-Mo is his health. Is he healthy enough to not only pass a physical but to play an entire season? That remains to be seen and we will never know until his is given the opportunity.

Charlotte would have a hard time matching the contracts that Donatas got from the Rockets and the Nets as they best they could offer in their current situation is a $2.89 million room exception. At that price, it would be hard to convince Motiejunas to sign with them but selling him on being a key figure on a competing team in the Eastern Conference could be enough to get his signature.

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If that happens, the Hornets would have to get rid of (trade/waive) a player in order create enough space on the roster as they are currently at the maximum 15 players. What player gets moved is completely up for debate but a big man is a likely option as the front court is already somewhat crowded as is with the likes of Marvin Williams, Cody Zeller, Frank Kaminsky, Roy Hibbert, and Spencer Hawes. Even Christian Wood is a young prospect that they would like to continue developing.

In my opinion, the Charlotte Hornets should take the risk by signing Donatas and then trade Kaminsky. It may not be the safest bet but it could be a move that pays off for the team in the long run (for the remainder of this season). He would provide a scoring spark off the bench as a stretch four and his seven-foot frame could be effective on defense as well even though he isn’t known as a great defender. (Can’t be much worse than Kaminsky, amirite?)

While I believe that this move will never even come close to fruition, it is an entertaining idea. The Charlotte Hornets have a history over the past few years of taking chances on forgotten players and making them relevant/productive again so maybe they could do the same with D-Mo. What are your thoughts about this move?

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