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Donatas Motiejunas lets Rockets’ qualifying offer expire

Houston Rockets v Los Angeles Lakers

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 17: Donatas Motiejunas #20 of the Houston Rockets is fouled as he shoots by Julius Randle #30 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on December 17, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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Unsurprisingly, the deadline for Donatas Motiejunas’ qualifying offer prompted last-ditch negotiations between him and the Rockets.

Somewhat more surprisingly, but far from unexpected, Motiejunas didn’t sign.

Calvin Watkins of ESPN:

The $4.4 million qualifying offer the Rockets sent to power forward Donatas Motiejunas has expired.

Motiejunas remains a restricted free agent. He just can’t unilaterally accept his one-year, $4,433,683 qualifying offer.

If I were the Rockets, I’d immediately lower the offer to him. An offer sheet from another team must be for at least two years, and teams will be reluctant to commit multiple years to someone with such worrisome back issues. (A multi-year offer sheet with only one guaranteed season could make sense, though I don’t know whether Motiejunas would want such a deal.) If the market pegs Motiejunas a player deserving a one-year contract, Houston has it corned. No need to bid against itself.

It was one thing for Tristan Thompson to let his qualifying offer expire last year. He was always going to make at least that amount. The only question was the exact figure.

Motiejunas’ next salary is much more fluid, and he’s taking a major risk by letting the qualifying offer expire.