Veteran forward Stanley Johnson has managed to grind his way to a major rotation role with the Spurs this season, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News (subscriber link). McDonald notes that Johnson’s committed practice regimen has endeared him to this young rebuilding San Antonio club. Johnson joined the Spurs following a brief stint with the Sioux Falls Skyforce in the G League in December.
“I’m trying to put everything I have, all my focus and energy, into the games and practices,” Johnson said. “I’m very thankful to have any chance to play, even if it’s two minutes a game… I don’t take that lightly. To see a coaching staff that believes in me enough to put me out there on a nightly basis, I’m really grateful for it. It hasn’t happened for my whole career, and it could go away at some point.”
Through 25 games with the Spurs, Johnson is averaging 5.7 PPG on .531/.444/.647 shooting. The 6’6″ vet is also chipping in 3.0 RPG and 2.3 APG.
There’s more out of the Southwest Division:
- Spurs rookie shooting guard Malaki Branham is growing as a ball-handler, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (subscriber link). Branham has gotten extended run due to injuries to several San Antonio wings ahead of him in Gregg Popovich‘s rotation. “It’s being thrown in the fire and being ready to play every night,” Branham said. “I feel like I have been doing a good job at that.”
- The rebuilding Rockets have a significant supply of draft equity as well as the contracts of veterans Eric Gordon and Boban Marjanovic to play with as the trade deadline looms. Kelly Iko and John Hollinger of The Athletic examine Houston’s options and how any moves might impact the club’s long-term future.
- Grizzlies swingman Danny Green made his season debut for his new team on Wednesday following a knee surgery last spring, writes Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Green scored three points on 1-of-4 shooting from the floor in 10 minutes against the Trail Blazers. “It was good to get out there and be with the guys,” Green said. “Trying to figure out some things offensively and defensively. Try to build the chemistry… It was fun. Obviously, would’ve been nice to win the game but for me it was good to get out and play a little bit.” Green, 35, is on an expiring $10MM contract this year.