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No D-Mo for Nets as Houston matches

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NBA: Playoffs-Golden State Warriors at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

0-for-3.

In the end, the Nets four-year, $37 million offer sheet to Donatas Motiejunas proved to be reasonable and responsible, but for the third time since July, the Nets didn’t get their man. Just as the Heat did with Tyler Johnson and the Trail Blazers did with Allen Crabbe, the Rockets matched the Nets’ offer, leaving them empty-handed. Word came just before 5 p.m., seven hours before the match deadline, in a Woj tweet.

Motiejunas, a 26-year-old seven-footer, had staged what amounted to a holdout for five months, negotiating with the Rockets, while hoping that another team would come along and make him an offer Houston couldn’t refuse. It worked for him, but not the Nets.

The Rockets owner issued a statement on the rationale behind the Rockets match. “There aren’t many seven-foot players who the skills that D-Mo possesses,” said Leslie Alexander.

Sean Marks tried to paint a positive picture but admitted he had hoped for a different outcome.

“It’s obviously disappointing when you miss on a chance to acquire another asset, but at the same time it shows us we are going down the right path knowing that he was matched, just like the other guys in the past,” Marks told the media before the Nets game vs. Washington.

Asked if he would continue going after restricted free agents, Marks said it will be part of the rebuilding plan.

“We are going to be aggressive and creative in how we acquire assets, obviously with the hand we've been dealt but at the same time we're positive moving forward with the group we have right here,” he added.

The Nets’ offer had several aspects that appealed to the Rockets. Although Motiejunas will get $5 million upfront, Houston can, if it wants, cut him by January 10 and not have to pay him anything more. They are of course likely to retain him, having finally committed to him after a long standoff. Then on March 1, they’ll have another opportunity to end his contract. On that date, the Rockets must decide whether to guarantee him a second year ... at $9 million. Also, in years 3 and 4 of the deal, there are team options with trigger dates of July 7. Neither are guaranteed.

Should Marks have offered more money, fewer options?

“We’re comfortable with where we stand,” said Marks. “Had Houston not matched that, then we were comfortable with the offer we got out there. We put our best foot forward and that’s what not only myself, but [Coach] Kenny [Atkinson] and ownership, we were comfortable doing ... [Motiejunas’] health was not a concern for us in this particular offer.”

Houston media suggested that although the Rockets believed Motiejunas is currently healthy and ready to play, there are concerns about whether his troubled back will hold up beyond next season. The team options in 2018 and 2019 help resolve that issue.

Marks has used big offers to restricted free agents like Motiejunas, as a rebuilding tool, hoping the Nets offer sheets would prove too rich for the RFA’s team to match. In addition to the three players who accepted the Nets offer sheets, other restricted free agents were pursued, but didn’t accept Brooklyn’s blandishments.