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Donatas Motiejunas: Pistons used physical as excuse to change mind on trade


at Pepsi Center on December 14, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Rockets 114-108. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.

Doug Pensinger

The Pistons voiding the Donatas Motiejunas trade -- a move that cost the Rockets (via the luxury tax) and the 76ers (via the salary floor) money -- was sure to ruffle some feathers around the NBA.

Start with Motiejunas.

Motiejunas, via, as translated by reddit user pliumbum:

The medical examination is a funny thing. The team doctor simply says whether you pass or don’t, although they may not even do any checks. Those 48 hours actually just let the team decide whether they want you or not. The Pistons announced I did not pass the medical, although I surely did pass it and played even before it. I just got ‘screwed’. The injury was a pretense to call off the trade. They changed their minds.

“Passing a physical” in this context does not mean determining whether or not Motiejunas is healthy enough to play. It means whether he projects to remain healthy enough to justify trading a top-eight-protected first-round pick for him.

That call was the Pistons’ and theirs alone.

Perhaps, Detroit used the extra time to reflect after what can be chaotic moments just before the trade deadline and determined the price was too high -- whether or not Motiejunas was as healthy as expected. Going 0-2 in the limbo period and their playoff competitors -- Wizards (Markieff Morris) and Hornets (Courtney Lee) -- upgrading could have pushed the Pistons to place more value on that pick.

Motiejunas has every incentive to spin the story this way. He’ll be a free agent this summer, and his back injury already looked troublesome. The Pistons’ decision makes him look even more like damaged goods.

He played nine minutes in the Rockets’ loss to the Spurs on Saturday, shooting 1-for-4. Don’t read too much into one game, but his first NBA game of the calendar year and first opportunity to engender confidence since the voided trade left plenty to be desired.

Fairly or not, the onus is now on Motiejunas to prove he’s healthy entering free agency.