Donatas Motiejunas apparently feels wronged by the Pistons, and he is not being silent after Detroit rescinded the trade-deadline deal that brought him from Houston. Motiejunas stopped just short of threatening legal action against the Pistons, and said Detroit simply changed their minds about giving up a first-round pick.
That is, of course, if this English translation of the original source material is accurate, via reddit. Detroit Bad Boys is working on verifying the translation independently, and will update the story as soon as possible.
If the translation is indeed accurate, then the Pistons organization, the Rockets and the league cannot afford to take the comments lightly. Among Motiejunas' apparent comments, translated from Lithuanian to English:
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.
Now I will be talking to my agent and lawyers to clarify what to do next. The Pistons had access to my full medical history, so they shouldn't have done what they did to me. They decreased my value. The medical examination I ‘failed' was a joke. The Pistons will have some explaining to do why they did not want the trade anymore. We will see what happens.
If there is any proof that the Pistons failed Motijunas' physical for any reasons other than concerns about his long-term health then it would require sanctions and swift action from the NBA.
There are, however, ample reasons to be skeptical that Detroit did anything wrong. First, Motiejunas, as a pending restricted free agent, has every reason to downplay any injury concerns as he looks to sign a new long-term deal this offseason.
Second, the idea that the Pistons simply "changed their mind" flies in the face of all available information. When the trade went down, Pistons coach and executive Stan Van Gundy was under no illusions that they were trading for a player who was going to be a future iron man. At the time of the trade, Van Gundy relayed information from Houston's medical staff that it was a similar back issue to that of J.J. Redick, and said he expected "flare-ups."
"You're going to live with a guy missing three or four games every once in a while, to get a guy of his talent, yeah," Van Gundy said, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Third, the Pistons were under no illusions that swinging major trades at the deadline might risk their chance of making the playoffs in the more competitive Eastern Conference. Motiejunas was coming off of a major back injury and Detroit traded for him anyway. The team also traded their starting power forward and backup point guard for Tobias Harris the day before.
After the Harris deal, Van Gundy told the Detroit Free Press, "We very much want to make the playoffs this year, but we're not going to sacrifice what we could do for the future.
"Our future is, hopefully, not fighting for the seventh or eighth playoff seed. This year, the easy thing would have been to just keep everybody together, but when you look ahead and see what the opportunity we have to move forward, I think it would have been foolish to pass this up just for a better shot at the eighth seed this year."
This is the same Van Gundy, after all, who traded for a restricted free agent last season in Reggie Jackson, promptly saw his team lose 10 straight games and didn't blink over giving Jackson a huge new deal in the offseason.
At the time the trade was rescinded, there were grumblings that Detroit had cold feet simply because they had fallen out of the playoff picture. But recall that at the time the trade was made the team had already lost three straight heading to the All-Star break and swung the trades anyway.
The fact that a short-handed team (without Motiejunas and Marcus Thornton, who hadn't yet been cleared to play) promptly lost its first two games after the break likely had nothing to do with its decision to rescind the Motiejunas trade.
Yet, that is exactly the charge Motiejunas levies with his comments.
Now, Motiejunas might feel healthy enough to play right now, and feel like nothing is wrong. That doesn't mean, however, that the Pistons didn't see something that concerned them long-term. Detroit was trading a first-round pick for him to essentially ensure the right to give him a big off-season deal as a restricted free agent. It's not like they weren't ready to put their money where their mouth was (same as Jackson a year earlier).
But if they were under the impression they were trading for a player who would have occasional flare-ups and instead saw a player who would likely suffer another major back injury then they were fully within their right to rescind the deal.
After the trade was rescinded, Detroit said they would have no further comment, citing Moteijunas' medical privacy. Now that Motiejunas has made such strong charges against the team, however, they might feel the need to respond.
We'll have more as this story develops.
H/T to DBBer keyesek, who flagged the reddit piece in the comments.