'Too much risk': Pistons void deal for Motiejunas, Thornton
Cleveland — It’s back to Square One for the Pistons.
After acquiring 7-foot forward Donatas Motiejunas and Marcus Thornton from the Rockets at last week’s trade deadline, the Pistons have voided the deal.
The Pistons were concerned about the status of Motiejunas’ back after he was examined by a back specialist in New York last Friday. They’ve been reviewing his medical history with team doctors and staff at the Detroit Medical Center.
Pistons president/coach Stan Van Gundy said the Pistons received a 24-hour extension — beyond the league-mandated 72-hour period for trades — to review Motiejunas’ status.
They didn’t like what they found and weren’t willing to move forward with the deal.
“Medical clearance was not given on all players and the trade is being rescinded,” Pistons general manager Jeff Bower said in a statement. “In view of privacy considerations relating to medical information, we will have no further comment.”
Van Gundy said there was some disappointment in the trade not going through, given the versatility Motiejunas could have added to the lineup and the depth the two players could have provided.
“It’s disappointing because we saw the possibilities,” Van Gundy said before Monday’s game at Cleveland. “I would do it over again. We did our due diligence and thought there was too much risk.”
As a result, all the players involved in the deal will return to their original teams. The Pistons keep Joel Anthony — whom the Rockets later traded to the 76ers — and their 2016 first-round pick; Motiejunas and Thornton return to the Rockets.
Motiejunas had back surgery last season and said last week that he was 100 percent healthy and ready to return to game action, having practiced with the Rockets on Wednesday.
Now the Pistons have to move in a different direction. After dealing Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova for Tobias Harris, they have 14 players on the roster.
Van Gundy said they’ll look at some options, but since the trade deadline has passed, they are somewhat limited to waiver-wire acquisitions and 10-day contracts, potentially of players in the D-League.
“We don’t have anything imminent right now,” Van Gundy said. “We’re looking at somebody to give us more depth at the (power forward) spot.”
Van Gundy clarified the Pistons could not have altered the terms of the deal — such as the protection level for the first-round pick — because the trade deadline had passed.
With the players returning to their original teams, it creates an awkward situation for a player like Anthony.
Anthony, in his ninth season, will find his way back as the third center.
“I’ve never been through this situation,” Van Gundy said. “It’s a little bit awkward. I’m just glad we’re doing it with a guy who is as professional as Joel.”
Anthony has played in 13 games, averaging 0.7 points and 1.2 rebounds.
Tolliver out 2-4 weeks
After an MRI, Pistons forward Anthony Tolliver was diagnosed with a grade-1 right knee sprain. He’s expected to miss 2-4 weeks. In the meantime, Van Gundy will use Harris and Marcus Morris at power forward and rookie Stanley Johnson almost exclusively at small forward.
It also meant Harris got his first start Monday.
“We’re going to go offensively in our stuff and play Tobias more at the 4,” Van Gundy said. “We’ll just put them in situations where they’re both comfortable.”