The Donatas Motiejunas saga in Houston has strayed into November, but stay tuned.
After weeks of mostly silence about the restricted free agent's future, action is starting to bubble here.
Whether that action results in a deal that restores Motiejunas to active duty remains to be seen, but league sources say that the Rockets have ramped up their attempts to sign the Lithuanian power forward, with Thanksgiving week serving as an unofficial deadline for a deal.
Nov. 23 is the date of particular significance, sparked by the fact Motiejunas can't be traded this season if he's signed after that date, which could possibly lower his value with potential outside suitors as well. Any new deal with Motiejunas after Nov. 23 would leave less than three months before the league's annual Feb. 23 trade deadline, making him ineligible to be included in any potential deals, something that the ever-aggressive Rockets would prefer to avoid.
Motiejunas remains a restricted free agent after he chose to let Houston's $4.4 million qualifying offer for this season expire Oct. 1. Sources told ESPN on Friday that the Rockets' latest offer is a multiyear deal that starts at $7 million annually, with attainable incentives that could take it to $8 million.
The Rockets are presently unwilling to fully guarantee more than the first season in a new contract, sources say, in a nod to the back injury that scuttled Houston's trade with Detroit in February that briefly made Motiejunas a Piston until the deal was voided due to a failed physical.
Six teams out there still possess in excess of $10 million in salary cap space to make a play for him if they wish -- Philadelphia, Denver, Brooklyn, Utah, Phoenix and Minnesota -- but the Rockets remain able to match any offer Motiejunas receives.
As ESPN's Calvin Watkins reported recently, Motiejunas stopped receiving paychecks from last season's $2.2 million salary on Nov. 1. Another option available to the 26-year-old, of course, is signing a deal to play overseas this season, but the money available abroad typically falls well shy of NBA levels. He would also remain a restricted free agent in that scenario.
It's been an eventful week for Nets center Brook Lopez.
The 7-footer made an undeniable splash Wednesday with 34 points -- highlighted by four 3-pointers -- in surprising Brooklyn's 109-101 victory Wednesday night over Detroit. The flurry of triples made headlines because Lopez came into the game having sank just four previous 3s in 490 regular-season games.
But what's happening behind the scenes is newsy, too. Some rival executives are increasingly convinced that the Nets are open to moving Lopez between now and the February deadline in the proverbial right deal.
Rumblings of Boston interest have been forcefully shot down by sources familiar with the Celtics' thinking, but the situation bears monitoring -- and not simply because the Celts could ultimately decide that a big in-season move is wisest in the event they can't create as much cap space next summer as they once hoped.
Sources familiar with the Nets' thinking stressed to ESPN.com in recent days that, as it stands, Brooklyn is merely fielding calls and doing its due diligence. Listening to other teams, in other words, as opposed to outright shopping the former All-Star center.
The reality, though, is that Lopez, at 28, is the Nets' most desirable asset, thanks in part to the fact he has another full season (at $22.6 million) left on his contract after this one.
Yet it should be noted that the Nets, even after Lopez appeared in 73 games last season, have already held him out of one back-to-back in a nod to the big man's history of foot troubles and are openly weighing whether to hold him out of more.
The Raptors are among the teams that have expressed interest in Philadelphia's very available Nerlens Noel, but sources say Toronto's initial preference in the wake of losing Jared Sullinger (foot) to injury is to give more minutes to various younger players (such as rookies Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl) so they get first crack at filling the void. ... Oklahoma City's Steven Adams landed a 7.5 percent trade kicker in his new four-year, $100 million contract extension, meaning he gets a 7.5 percent bonus from his existing salary if he's dealt during the course of the new deal that kicks in next season. The official numbers on Gorgui Dieng's extension in Minnesota, meanwhile, came in at $62.8 million over four years. ... Jerry Colangelo's decision not to seek a third term as USA Basketball chairman won't have any impact on his role with the senior men's national team. He remains Team USA's managing director after assuring Gregg Popovich that he would continue to essentially serve as the team's GM through the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, something Colangelo promised when Popovich agreed to succeed Mike Krzyzewski as Team USA coach.