Blake Wesley

Southwest Injury Notes: Morant, Jackson Jr., Wesley, Langford, Tate, Bertans

Ja Morant missed Sunday’s game against Washington with an ankle injury but it apparently will only be a one-game absence. The Grizzlies’ star guard is not on the injury report for Tuesday’s game against New Orleans, the team’s PR department tweets.

Meanwhile, Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. could make his season debut on Tuesday, as the forward is listed as questionable. Jackson has been rehabbing from offseason right foot surgery. Morant’s backcourt partner, Desmond Bane, is doubtful due to toe soreness.

We have more injury updates regarding the Southwest Division:

  • Spurs rookie guard Blake Wesley has begun his rehab from a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express News reports. Wesley is expected to miss six-to-eight weeks of action. “It’s going good,” he said. “I’ve started jogging, lifting and getting my routine back. I’m on the court, not moving, but getting up shots and taking it day by day.”
  • Spurs guard Romeo Langford has been placed in the league’s health and safety protocols and will miss Monday’s game against Golden State, Orsborn tweets.
  • Rockets forward Jae’Sean Tate has appeared in just three games due to an ankle injury and he’ll miss several more games. Coach Stephen Silas said Tate will be reevaluated in two or three weeks, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets.
  • Mavericks forward Davis Bertans, who has been sidelined with a right knee injury, participated in his first full practice on Monday since early in training camp, Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News tweets. Bertans is still listed out for the team’s game against the Clippers on Tuesday, the team’s PR department tweets.

Spurs Rookie Blake Wesley Sidelined 6-8 Weeks

Spurs rookie guard Blake Wesley will miss six-to-eight weeks due to a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee, Tom Noie of the South Bend Tribune reports.

Wesley suffered the injury during the second quarter against Minnesota on Sunday when he bumped knees with Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels.

Wesley was the 25th overall pick of the June draft after playing one season at Notre Dame, where he led the Irish in scoring (14.4 PPG). He was making just his second NBA appearance against the Timberwolves after contributing 10 points and four assists in 15 minutes against Chicago on Friday.

Wesley got a chance to join the rotation when the Spurs abruptly waived Joshua Primo last week after Primo allegedly exposing himself to women. Wesley’s injury could force San Antonio to make a move to shore up its backcourt depth.

Spurs Notes: Wesley, Collins, Vassell, Primo

The Spurs‘ decision to waive Joshua Primo has created an opportunity for rookie guard Blake Wesley, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. Wesley made his NBA debut Friday night and posted 10 points and four assists in 15 minutes in a victory over the Bulls. He showed none of the shooting problems that plagued him in Summer League, hitting 4-of-6 from the field and 2-of-3 from three-point range.

“You got to stay ready,” said Wesley, who was taken with the 25th pick in this year’s draft. “I was just ready today.”

Wesley may be joining lottery pick Jeremy Sochan in San Antonio’s rotation, but McDonald notes that Malaki Branham, who was taken 20th overall, is still waiting to play in his first game.

There’s more on the Spurs:

  • With injury problems behind him, Zach Collins is off to a strong start, McDonald adds. The backup center had his best game of the season Friday, putting up 16 points and six rebounds in 18 minutes. He has reached double figures in scoring in three of the past five games. “Defense, passing and honestly shooting has been good all season,” Collins said. “(Friday) I took more shots and they went in. Hopefully, I keep this rolling.”
  • Devin Vassell will miss his third straight game Sunday against the Timberwolves because of pain in his right knee, tweets Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. Coach Gregg Popovich told reporters Friday that there’s no timetable for Vassell to return. Josh Richardson is questionable for Sunday’s game because of lower back tightness.
  • Noting that Primo referred to a mental health issue in his statement on Friday night, Orsborn (Twitter link) points out that the Spurs hired a performance psychologist in September 2021. The psychologist was required under the NBA’s newly adopted mental health policy, and teams are also required to enlist a licensed psychiatrist when necessary, according to Orsborn.

Southwest Notes: Brunson, Finney-Smith, Rockets, Wesley

Former Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson expected to stay with the franchise for a long time, he revealed on JJ Redick’s The Old Man & The Three podcast (Twitter link). Instead, Brunson wound up signing with the Knicks this month, inking a four-year, $104MM deal.

“I loved my time in Dallas. I thought I was going to be in Dallas for a long time,” Brunson said. “I started having a monster season. I went to them before they officially offered it to me, and by the end, it was kind of too late.”

As has been previously reported, Brunson was interested early in the 2021/22 season in the same four-year, $56MM extension Dorian Finney-Smith eventually signed, but by the time the Mavericks offered it after the trade deadline, Brunson had outperformed it.

“The business came knocking at the door, and so it was time to at least look [in free agency]. I had to do my due diligence and look to see what was out there.”

Brunson is coming off a season in which he averaged a career-high 16.3 points per game. He was a secondary creator alongside Luka Doncic, also averaging 4.8 assists and shooting an efficient 50%.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith is aiming to be more of a vocal leader next season, as relayed by Dwain Price of Finney-Smith is eyeing a ring with Dallas, who’s expected to compete for a title after losing in the Conference Finals 4-1 to Golden State last season. The Mavericks acquired Christian Wood and have a top-tier offense, but they’ll need to give a high-level defensive effort to contend. They ranked seventh in defensive rating (109.1) and 10th in defensive rebound percentage (73.3%) last season.
  • Kelly Iko of The Athletic examines several Rockets topics in his mailbag, including next summer’s free agency, new assistant coaches and more. Houston is coming off a 20-62 season and is continuing a full-scale rebuild. The team has a young nucleus of Kevin Porter Jr. (22), Jalen Green (20), Jabari Smith Jr. (19) and others to build around. Houston also recently added Lionel Hollins, Mike Batiste and Mahmoud Abdelfattah to its coaching staff.
  • Ethan Fuller of interviews Blake Wesley, who was drafted No. 25 overall by the Spurs last month. Wesley appears ready to sharpen his point guard skills. “I see myself as a point guard, so going into the NBA I feel I’m gonna be a point guard,” Wesley said. “A big key to the Spurs is [being] 6-foot-5, long [and] athletic, so to get guys open is gonna be good for me. I’m gonna get to the paint and find guys.”

Spurs Notes: K. Johnson, Primo, Wesley, Branham, Engelland

The Spurs are locking up one of the keys to their rebuilding project by agreeing to a four-year, $80MM extension with Keldon Johnson, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. Even though Johnson is only 22, he’s among the most experienced players on the roster following the trade of Dejounte Murray to Atlanta.

“I kind of have been in the system the longest,” Johnson said after the Murray deal was announced. “So just lead these guys, tell them the ins and outs. We are all going to have learning moments in the upcoming years, but just stay even-keeled throughout it.”

After earning an Olympic gold medal last summer, Johnson turned in his best NBA season so far, posting career highs with 17.1 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game and shooting 39.8% from three-point range. With Murray and Lonnie Walker both gone, Johnson will have to become an on-court leader for a team with the league’s second-youngest roster.

“Definitely a big opportunity,” he said. “We lost some big pieces, but it’s time to step up. You got to keep evolving, keep getting better, keep grinding. I am ready.”

There’s more on the Spurs:

  • San Antonio is counting on a pair of 19-year-old guards to play major roles this season, per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. The Spurs were hoping to get a long look at 2021 lottery pick Joshua Primo during Summer League, but he was limited to two games after testing positive for COVID-19. Blake Wesley, the 25th overall pick this season, had issues with shooting and turnovers in Las Vegas, but ranked 14th in scoring coming into today’s games. “Blake Wesley and Josh Primo are the modern-day guards,” Spurs Summer League coach Mitch Johnson said. “They are not classic throwback point guards. They are not classic throwback shooting guards in terms of how we used to define those things years ago. They are attacking guards, so that’s going to be a thing we will continue to develop, evolve, grow, teach, partner with them on.”
  • Summer League has been a learning process for another young guard, Malaki Branham, who was taken with the 20th pick last month, Orsborn adds. “I would rate myself grade-wise probably a C, C-plus,” Branham said. “I feel I need to be more aggressive. I’m looking for my shot but also creating for others. Just learning every game and learning every play as well.”
  • Assistant coach Chip Engelland, who has been with the team since 2005, will leave after his current contract expires, tweets Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

Blake Wesley Signs Rookie Contract With Spurs

The Spurs have signed first-round pick Blake Wesley, the team announced in a press release.

Assuming Wesley receives the standard 120% of the rookie scale, he will be paid approximately $2.39MM in his first season and $12.24MM over the life of the four-year contract.

[RELATED: 2022 NBA Draft Pick Signings]

The 19-year-old guard out of Notre Dame was the 25th pick in last month’s draft. He averaged 14.4 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists during his lone season with the Fighting Irish and was a second-team All-ACC selection.

Wesley was one of three players selected by the Spurs in the first round of the June 23 draft. There have been no announcements yet on Jeremy Sochan and Malaki Branham, but it likely won’t be long before they sign their own rookie contracts.

Spurs Notes: Branham, Wesley, Walker, Sochan, Popovich

Malaki Branham and Blake Wesley impressed the Spurs so much with their competitiveness at a pre-draft workout that the team decided to take both players, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. The two guards were matched up against each other in a 3-on-3 scrimmage and both took advantage of the opportunity.

“I felt like we was competing for a spot, so I was going extra hard and going after him,” Wesley said of Branham. Wesley also tried to outshine Duke’s Wendell Moore, who took part in the scrimmage as well, explaining, “They had a lot more hype than me, so I wanted to go at them.”

General manager Brian Wright said the Spurs expected Branham to be selected in the mid-teens or possibly late in the lottery and were prepared to trade up for him before he fell to No. 20.

“He’s smart, tough, competitive and coachable, and those are all things we were looking to find in this draft,” Wright said.

There’s more from San Antonio:

  • The addition of two guards casts doubt on the future of Lonnie Walker, who is headed for free agency, Orsborn adds in a separate story. The Spurs can make him restricted by extending a $6.3MM qualifying offer by Wednesday, but there may no longer be a role for him in San Antonio. “He has done a phenomenal job in his development over the years and we saw the consistency he brought, especially in the second half of the season when he really hit his stride,” Wright said. “At the appropriate time, we will sit with (his representatives) and him and try to find out what’s next for him and the franchise.”
  • Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News looks at the international background of lottery pick Jeremy Sochan, who had to learn basketball from his mother because there weren’t many accomplished coaches in the English town where the family lived when he was young. The organization is impressed by Sochan’s versatility and plans to use him all along the front line.
  • Coach Gregg Popovich called each of the Spurs’ draft picks Thursday night to welcome them to the team, McDonald tweets, adding that it’s a pretty clear indication that Popovich plans to return for another season.

Wolves Notes: Connelly, KAT, Draft, Russell, A. Williams

If it were up to president of basketball operations Tim Connelly, Karl-Anthony Towns would remain with the Timberwolves for his entire career. Towns is eligible for a super-max extension this summer after being selected to the All-NBA Third Team.

I hope he’s here forever. I hope we have the type of team success that would allow us to look up and see Karl’s jersey being hung up in the rafters,” Connelly said in a Q&A session with Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. “I reached out to a bunch of these guys, but I don’t want to force relationships. You have to develop those things naturally. So, I’ve heard so many great things about him. I know how great a player he is on the court, but off the court it’s been so consistent, just an unbelievably sweet guy that treats everyone in a really classy manner.

“I think he’s been through so much, so many different faces and different chairs, from the front office to the coaching staff. So I think with continuity with Finchy (head coach Chris Finch), you’re going to see a better version of Karl and he’s already a great player.”

Connelly conceded that the team’s potential first-round pick (19th overall) likely won’t have a significant role on the team next year, but he believes the Wolves can find a good long-term fit with the selection.

We’ll beat up all the different possibilities pretty good. We’re also very content and pretty excited about if we’re going to get a good player at 19,” he said. “It’s going to be hard for any player we draft to have a huge role with the team that just had the success they had. We’re not drafting for June 24, we’re drafting for, hopefully, to add a person that can be a part of sustained success and a person who can grow into a role. I think things are on the table, but we do feel pretty convinced that 19 is going to yield a good player.”

It’s an interesting interview from Hine for any Wolves fans looking for insight into Connelly’s approach.

Here’s more on the Wolves:

  • Amid rumors that Minnesota is exploring the trade market for veteran centers, including Clint Capela, Michael Rand of The Star Tribune wonders if one of the team’s biggest offseason moves might be a position change for Towns. Rand notes that sliding Towns down to the power forward spot would improve the Wolves’ rebounding woes, and he’d likely feast on smaller players in the post, but there are some possible drawbacks. Towns is quicker than most centers, so he might lose the ability to pump-fake and drive past slower-footed defenders, and it would take him time to adjust defensively. Ultimately, Rand believes utilizing a bigger lineup could work in certain matchups.
  • Jon Krawczynski and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic discuss Minnesota’s draft possibilities for the 19th and 40th picks (the Wolves also control the 48th and 50th picks). Vecenie doesn’t love the team’s options for the first-rounder and believes trading out in order to acquire additional first-round selections makes sense, but if the Wolves keep the pick, he thinks Blake Wesley or E.J. Liddell could be decent options. Wesley, a guard from Notre Dame, is ranked 22nd on ESPN’s big board, while Liddell, a forward from Ohio State, is ranked 21st. Vecenie says there are a number of “interesting, high-upside” prospects who could be available with the 40th pick, including Peyton Watson, Josh Minott and Kendall Brown, among others.
  • The Wolves haven’t come close to trading D’Angelo Russell “or any other player,” sources tell Krawczynski in another story for The Athletic. However, Krawczynski says trade talks are expected to heat up “the closer it gets to the draft,” which is tomorrow, and the fate of Russell and other possible trade candidates should become clearer once it concludes.
  • Alondes Williams worked out for the Wolves on Tuesday, reports Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (via Twitter). The 6’5″ guard averaged 18.5 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 5.2 APG and 1.2 SPG on .507/.282/.691 shooting as a junior for Wake Forest. He’s ranked 59th on ESPN’s board, so he could be a possibility for one of the team’s second-round picks.

Northwest Notes: Terry, Jazz Coaching Search, Wesley, Daniels, OKC

Jason Terry was among the first candidates to interview for the head coaching vacancy with the Jazz last weekend, and he tells Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson he was happy with the results (Twitter link). Terry says his extensive track record at several levels of basketball should give him an advantage.

“When you talk about mentoring, teaching and player development, I’d like to say my skills speak for themselves,” he said. “I have a vast amount of experience at all levels — college, pro, G League, management, playing obviously 19 years, so with that said alone, I feel like I’m a good man for the job.”

Fifteen potential candidates have been linked to Utah since Quin Snyder stepped down earlier this month. Terry, who interviewed with CEO Danny Ainge and general manager Justin Zanik, said it would be a pleasure to work for such a well-run franchise.

“Their organization has been first class since I’ve known it, for the 19 years I played and after,” Terry said. “I can tell they’re headed in the right direction. They’ve got a great core nucleus of guys and talent that speaks for itself. They’ve been the class of the Western Conference, though they haven’t won a championship yet or been to the NBA Finals. I just think they’re the right voice away.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Kenny Atkinson’s change of heart regarding the Hornets means the Jazz no longer have the advantage of being the only team conducting a coaching search, writes Ryan McDonald of The Deseret News. Terry Stotts, one of the finalists for the job in Charlotte, is also reportedly a candidate in Utah, and McDonald wonders if anyone else the Jazz are considering will emerge as a possibility for the Hornets. He also speculates that owner Michael Jordan could consider hiring Snyder, who has connections to North Carolina.
  • As one of the best ball-handlers in the draft, Notre Dame guard Blake Wesley could be an option for the Nuggets with the 21st pick, per Ron Gutterman of Wesley also possesses a high basketball IQ and would immediately become one of the best defenders in Denver’s backcourt, Gutterman adds.
  • In an interview with ESPN Australia (video link), Dyson Daniels says the Thunder were his favorite team and Russell Westbrook was his favorite player when he was younger. Oklahoma City holds the No. 2 and No. 12 picks in Thursday’s lottery, but Daniels is likely to be selected in between that range.
  • Silvio De Sousa, formerly of Kansas and Tennessee-Chattanooga, had a Thursday workout with the Thunder, tweets Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Marcus Weathers will work out for OKC on Monday (Twitter link).

Draft Notes: Banchero, Wesley, Williams, Mock

Duke’s Paolo Banchero is projected by most mock drafts to be selected by the Rockets with the No. 3 pick. Banchero believes that’s two slots too low, USA Today’s David Thompson writes.

“I feel like I am the best player in the draft and I feel like I showed that throughout the year,” he said. “I feel like I showed everything with my skill sets and my intangibles.”

However, he wouldn’t be disappointed if he ends up playing with Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr in Houston.

“Those are two extremely skilled, extremely talented players,” Banchero said. “Both guys I’ve known for a while. I feel like playing with them would be fun.”

We have more draft-related info:

  • Notre Dame’s Blake Wesley is the latest player to get a green room invite, Jonathan Givony of ESPN tweets. He’s currently ranked No. 27 on ESPN’s Best Available list. There are now 22 players with green room invitations.
  • Jalen Williams has worked out for the Clippers, Warriors, Nuggets, Grizzlies, Bucks, Thunder and Spurs, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee tweets. ESPN ranks the Santa Clara guard at No. 21. Williams will soon visit the Cavaliers, Anderson adds.
  • In Basketball News’ Matt Babcock’s latest mock draft, Williams winds up with the Grizzlies at No. 22. Jabari Smith is the Magic‘s pick at No. 1.