The Nets are 0-for-3 in the restricted free-agent market after the Rockets on Monday chose to match the four-year offer sheet worth $37 million that forward Donatas Motiejunas signed Friday. The Nets signed Portland’s Allen Crabbe and Miami’s Tyler Johnson last summer only to see their teams also match.
“It’s obviously disappointing when you miss out on a chance to acquire another asset,” general manager Sean Marks said. “But at the same time, it shows us we were going down the right path knowing that another team matched, just like the guys in the past.”
The Rockets traded Motiejunas to Detroit last March only to see the deal voided when he failed to pass the Pistons’ physical exam because of a back issue. The Rockets then engaged in prolonged negotiations with Motiejunas, who declined their offer, but they chose to accept the higher numbers contained in the Nets’ offer, which was guaranteed only for the first two years.
Asked if he regretted not putting more money into the first year of the contract to make it more difficult for Houston to match, Marks said: “No, we’re comfortable with where we stand. We put our best foot forward and that’s what not only myself, but [coach] Kenny [Atkinson] and ownership were comfortable doing.”
Marks said it’s a positive that three players have accepted offer sheets from the Nets and added the organization will remain aggressive about making offers to other restricted free agents or players from Europe or the D-League since the Celtics have an option to switch first-round picks with the Nets in 2017 and own the Nets’ top pick in 2018. The first-year GM also promised an aggressive approach to the competition for unrestricted free agents.
“It’s not like last year, when there were a couple dozen teams that could offer big salaries,” Marks said. “It’s shrinking as it goes. There’s no secret out there now. Every team knows we’ve got plenty of cash to spend and maneuver around. We’ll just be strategic in how we do it . . . Just like the rest of the league, we’re planning ahead, whether it’s for this year or for two years down the road.”
On an unrelated matter, Marks declined to offer a timetable for the return of point guard Jeremy Lin (strained right hamstring) who missed his 15th straight game Monday night. “We like where he’s at,” Marks said. “We want to be cautious and make sure when he does come back, he’s good to go.”