Whether it’s mock drafts, ridiculous FIBA U-Something stat lines or a record breaking Euroleague performance here and there, Donatas Motiejunas has existed in the Basketball Subconscious for years. Once expected to contend for a top draft slot, Motiejunas leveled off in Treviso and fell to Minnesota with the 20th pick in 2011. He was traded to the Houston Rockets, and after shaking off some stagnancy last season with Asseco Prokom, the Southpaw has come West for his rookie year.
But billed as the next big thing out of Lithuania—along with fellow rookie Jonas Valanciunas of the Toronto Raptors—he was cut from EuroBasket 2011, even though it was played on home soil. Then, after his big season with Prokom in Poland, he showed up to make the Olympic team.
Again, no Donatas. He was left off the roster again due to apparent problems with insuring his contract with the Rockets, and some other non-basketball-related issues.
Donatas says he wanted to be there, but he knows why he wasn’t. ”People that understand basketball,” and “the smart people, they understand what’s going on,” too.
Will he play at EuroBasket 2013 in Slovenia? He says if it’s not there, it might be never.
“I don’t want to be a part of going every time and giving my best, if someone’s not going to appreciate what I’m doing then I don’t see the point to go there and play.”
“[Not making the team] gave me a lot of anger, and a lot of good anger, to work extra, and to push myself to the limit,” Donatas told me after the game.
He also talks about his first week in the NBA and playing amidst all the James Harden and Jeremy Lin buzz.