San Antonio Spurs closing in on deal with Donatas Motiejunas
By Dylan Carter
After some deliberation, the San Antonio Spurs will fill their final roster spot by signing Lithuanian forward/center Donatas Motiejunas.
Moving on from center Pau Gasol midway through the 2018-19 regular season was a smart move by the San Antonio Spurs, as Gasol’s lack of mobility has made him a non-factor in the modern game. The buyout paved the way for San Antonio’s shiny new toy in Jakob Poeltl to take on an expanded role and jumpstart his development.
Still, the Spurs have shown a need in the frontcourt since stretch four Davis Bertans lacks the physicality to play center and All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge tends to perform better at his natural position. For this reason, general managed R.C. Buford settled on adding Lithuanian big man Donatas Motiejunas, who just rounded out his season with the Shandong Golden Stars of the Chinese Basketball Association.
The Spurs are nearing a deal with veteran NBA F/C Donatas Motiejunas, league sources tell ESPN. He’s been playing in China for the past two seasons.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 23, 2019
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Through 37 games this season, Motiejunas averaged a monster line of 27.3 points, 14 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.8 steals in roughly 34 minutes per night. According to a report by Lithuanian site 15min.lt, Motiejunas garnered attention from multiple organizations and will join the Spurs during the week.
Motiejunas spent five seasons in the NBA, all within the Southwest Division. He began his career with the Houston Rockets and learned under their system for four seasons before joining the Pelicans for 34 games in the 2016-17 season. His best season in the league came in 2014-15, when he played 28.7 minutes per game for an average of 12 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.
Now at 28-years-old, the Spurs will receive a refined and matured version of Motiejunas with the potential to fill values minutes off the bench for head coach Gregg Popovich. His post scoring, rebounding prowess and two-way effort should fit nicely within the constructs of the team.
While Motiejunas is not necessarily going to be the catalyst in a championship run, this was a low-risk, high reward scenario for the Spurs. If he contributed valuable minutes then it’s a win for the organization, but if he doesn’t then he’ll be back in China before you know it.