NBA sources confirm that the Houston Rockets have traded Donatas Motiejunas & Marcus Thornton to the Detroit Pistons for center Joel Anthony and a protected 2016 first-round draft pick; the Pistons-Rockets trade also involves the Philadelphia 76ers who have acquired Anthony from the Rockets in additIon to a future 2nd-round draft selection.
"It's part of the business," said Motiejunas about the trade in an interview with FOX 26 Sports. "No hard feelings. I gave my best for all these years I've been with the Rockets. If that's what the team thought that's what they needed, that's what they're going to do."
When asked if the trade surprised him, the man known affectionately as 'D-Mo' said, "I kind of was. It is what it is. I spent three and a half beautiful years in Houston. Houston has become my home. I love the people there. It is not going to be easy to leave. I'm hoping to bring the extra spark that they (Pistons) need to finish the season and end up with a playoff spot."
"I really had a good relationship with all of the people here in Houston," added Motiejunas. "It's going to be tough for me to leave. It's a business. That's how it is. It's the NBA."
Motiejunas shared the following message for Rockets fans:
I appreciate all these years they supported me and cheer for me even though when I was not playing. I didn't get my chance the first couple of years. They were still there. They were still supporting me. They were still cheering my name. I'm really thankful. I would like to thank Houston, the city and all the people that really were supporting me even when I was injured. I had an amazing time here. It's time for me to go. I cannot really change that.
"The GM in Detroit, that's who drafted me in New Orleans," said Thornton about Jeff Bower of the Pistons. "That kind of gives me a little peace of mind. It's a business. You got to get up and roll with the punches."
"The last couple of spots I've been in, I don't think they really knew me and knew my game," added Thornton. "It actually feels good to be going somewhere where they actually know my game."
"I loved the fans, loved the city," said Thornton regarding his time with the Rockets. "I wish we could have done better record-wise, wins and losses. Everything has been great here. The city took me in. The fans took me in. I'll have great memories."
The Rockets released the following statement on Friday afternoon:
Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey announced today that the team has completed a three-way trade with Detroit and Philadelphia. The Rockets received a protected 2016 first round pick from the Pistons and the draft rights of forward Chukwudiebere “Chu” Maduabum [chuck-WOO-DYE-berry mah-DO-a-bahm] from the Sixers. Houston traded forward/center Donatas Motiejunas and guard Marcus Thornton to Detroit and Denver’s second round pick in 2017 to Philadelphia. In addition, the Pistons traded center Joel Anthony to the Sixers.
Motiejunas (7-0, 222) was originally the 20th overall pick by Houston in the 2011 NBA Draft. In 191 career games with 80 starts for the Rockets, he averaged 8.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.1 assists.
Thornton (6-4, 205) is in his seventh NBA season. In 47 games with six starts for the Rockets this season, he averaged 10.0 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists.
Maduabum (6-9, 210) was originally the 56th overall pick by the L.A. Lakers in the 2011 NBA Draft. His rights were traded on draft night to Denver and later from the Nuggets to the Sixers on Feb. 19, 2015. Maduabum has played professionally in his home country of Nigeria as well as Qatar, Estonia, Mongolia, Iceland and most recently, Finland. He also spent parts of three seasons in the NBA Development League.