The Los Angeles Lakers are looking at tweaking their roster, especially with Larry Nance, Jr. out for at least a month following a left knee bone bruise. The Lakers hosted unrestricted free agent Donatas Motiejunas for a workout before Christmas, though they did not immediately make a contract offer, according to Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein of ESPN. Motiejunas is currently floating in the free agency pool after his long contract dispute with the Houston Rockets was resolved with the team renouncing their rights to the big man.
The Brooklyn Nets recently signed Motiejunas to a four-year, $37 million offer sheet that Houston went on to match. Donatas would never suit up again for the Rockets, though, instead being released in a surprising turn of events.
Motiejunas struggled to stay on the floor consistently last season after undergoing back surgery in 2015, with the Rockets attempting to trade him around the February deadline to the Detroit Pistons. The trade was voided shortly after Motiejunas failed his physical with Detroit.
The Lakers could use the frontcourt depth, especially while they try to survive life without Nance, Jr. for the next month. They’ve also been without Tarik Black for a chunk of the season following his ankle injury, and the basketball operations team is taking a measured approach to the development of Ivica Zubac. Zubac has been bouncing back-and-forth between the D-Fenders and Lakers, soaking in all he can as a 19-year-old prospect. He’s played minimal minutes with the main squad.
Donatas is an interesting NBA-proven player who was playing at a career-high level prior to his back injury, but there are red flags regarding his health. The Lakers were impressed by the workout, though, according to Shelburne:
Word is DMo was impressive in his workout w/ the Lakers, so this is more about his impact on the rotation rather than health concerns— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) December 28, 2016
The concern with adding Motiejunas appears to be tied to how his addition would impact the minutes of Julius Randle and Black, but adding talent without losing any pieces could be a nice get for the Lakers. Thomas Robinson has been the main beneficiary of the frontcourt injuries, which serves as an indication as to why adding big-man depth could be helpful for LA.
The Lakers would have to waive a player in order to sign Motiejunas, which is another consideration the front office would have to take into account.