Pistons get extension on Motiejunas decision

Rod Beard
The Detroit News
Donatas Motiejunas

Auburn Hills — The Pistons team store hasn’t stocked any jerseys for Donatas Motiejunas and Marcus Thornton yet.

And there’s a chance they won’t need to.

Following Thursday’s trade with the Houston Rockets, sending reserve center Joel Anthony and a protected first-round pick for the pair, the Pistons still haven’t completed the medical evaluations for Motiejunas.

The 7-foot forward had back surgery last year and has played in just 14 games this season as he’s recovered. Motiejunas has played in the D-League and practiced with the Rockets on Wednesday; he hasn’t played in an NBA game since Dec. 31.

Coach Stan Van Gundy said before Sunday afternoon’s game at The Palace against the New Orleans Pelicans that the Pistons have a 72-hour window to complete medical evaluations for all players involved. None has played or practiced since the trade was announced on Thursday night.

Motiejunas was examined by a back specialist on Friday and doctors at the Detroit Medical Center are reviewing his records to determine his status and whether the trade will be completed.

“You can ask for an extension to go over medical information and we’ve got a lot of doctors involved, so we need more time,” Van Gundy said.

Sunday night would have been the original deadline for the Pistons to make a determination on whether they would void the trade and all players return to their original teams. Van Gundy said the Pistons requested a 24-hour extension because of the complexities of the review.

The Rockets reportedly approved the extension, which pushes the deadline to 6 p.m. Monday.

Before Friday’s game at Washington, Van Gundy seemed comfortable with taking some risk with the trade and that Motiejunas’ back might not be 100 percent. But if the medical reports suggest that there’s significant risk, the Pistons could choose to void the trade and send all of the players back to their original teams.

“Obviously, it’s really key to get that checked out,” Van Gundy said Friday. We have an understanding — one of the guys that was with him in Houston has likened it to what (Clippers guard J.J. Redick) had.

"He said there would be occasional flare-ups, which J.J. had a little bit this year, but for the most part, OK. If that’s the case, then you’re going to live with a guy having to miss three or four games every once in a while to get a guy of his talent.”

Motiejunas will be a restricted free agent after this season, meaning the Pistons could match any offer made to him. But if the Pistons accept the trade and his back doesn’t check out as being healthy, things could get dicey.