Devin Vassell

Spurs Have Five Players Under Protocols; DeRozan Also Out Wednesday

The NBA postponed the last four Spurs games due to coronavirus positives and contact tracing. There’s now more clarity on which players are in the league’s health and safety protocols, as well as hope that their next scheduled game against the Thunder on Wednesday will be played.

The Spurs announced on Monday that Rudy Gay, Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell, Quinndary Weatherspoon and Derrick White remain under the league’s protocols and are not with the team. That group will not travel to Oklahoma City. Additionally, DeMar DeRozan will miss the game due to personal reasons.

However, LaMarcus Aldridge has been upgraded to active, according to Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News (Twitter links). He hasn’t played since February 1st due to a hip injury.

As previously reported, the Spurs on Monday recalled guard Tre Jones and forward Luka Samanic from the Austin Spurs. That would give the team 10 available players, two more than the minimum required to play.

San Antonio practiced on Monday, Orsborn added.

Weatherspoon was the only San Antonio player prior to Monday to be named publicly as being under the league’s health and safety protocols. The games postponed were all on the road — Detroit, Cleveland, New York and Indiana — which means the Spurs will have a busy schedule in the second half of the season. They also have to make up a January 25th postponement, a road game against New Orleans.

Spurs Notes: Poeltl, Weatherspoon, White, Murray, Vassell

Center Jakob Poeltl has been one of the league’s best shot blockers since moving into the Spurs‘ starting lineup five games ago, writes Tom Orsborne of The San Antonio Express-News. Poeltl is averaging 2.8 blocks per game, third in the NBA during that stretch, while filling in for LaMarcus Aldridge, who is dealing with a hip flexor.

“He’s very solid,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “He knows where to be on the court. He works really hard on the boards, protecting the rim, he runs the floor. He’s just done an excellent job, and mostly been very consistent.”

There’s more from San Antonio:

  • Reserve guard Quinndary Weatherspoon has been placed in the league’s health and safety protocols, Orsborn adds in a separate story. It’s not clear if Weatherspoon has tested positive for COVID-19 or is merely inactive due to contact tracing, so his quarantine time is uncertain. Drew Eubanks is the only other Spurs player to have gone through the protocols, although assistant coach Becky Hammon and an unidentified staffer were required to quarantine last month.
  • The Spurs’ backcourt of Derrick White and Dejounte Murray has become one of the best defensive pairings in the league, according to Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express News. Popovich has experimented with the roles for his young guards and hasn’t always started them together. White was a starter in only 20 of 68 games last season and didn’t start alongside Murray until the season resumed in Orlando. “They are great on defense together,” Poeltl said. “I think we are very, very versatile when we have both those guys out there on defense. It’s really helping us.”
  • First-round pick Devin Vassell has already played more minutes than any Spurs rookie since Kawhi Leonard nine years ago, McDonald notes in a separate story. Vassell is leading the team in steals at 1.1 per game and is shooting 40.3% from 3-point range. “One thing about him, he has instincts,” Rudy Gay said. “He showed that from Day 1. You can go out there in any situation, and he’ll find a way to make it happen.”

Southwest Notes: Vassell, DeRozan, Tucker, Pelicans, Redick, Bledsoe

Spurs swingman DeMar DeRozan is helping to teach rookie Devin Vassell the nuances of the NBA game, Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express News writes. Vassell was selected with the 11th overall pick in the draft and also plays on the wing. “A lot of times, even in practice, he comes to me and asks questions,” DeRozan said. “That’s big for a young guy to to be able to come to our vets and just ask questions, ask what he is doing wrong, what he can do better.” Vassell had 12 points, six rebounds and three steals in 24 minutes during his preseason debut.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Seeking an extension, Rockets forward P.J. Tucker says he wants to go “where I am wanted,” Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets. Tucker promises to “do my job” even if the club doesn’t offer him an extension. Tucker, who will make approximately $7.97MM this season, will enter unrestricted free agency next summer.
  • The Pelicans’ acquisition of center Steven Adams from the Thunder and subsequent decision to give him an extension was a head-scratcher, John Hollinger of The Athletic opines. They could have instead acquired a better shooter in Al Horford or re-signed Derrick Favors. They also would have been better off holding onto George Hill, rather than dealing him in the same multi-team trade involving Denver and Oklahoma City, Hollinger contends. Hill is a better shooter than Eric Bledsoe and New Orleans also has enough depth at the point, Hollinger adds.
  • Bledsoe will have to pass a series of tests before he can rejoin the Pelicans, coach Stan Van Gundy told The Athletic’s Will Guillory and other media members (Twitter link). Bledsoe left the market due to a personal matter and missed a COVID-19 test. J.J. Redick was held out of the team’s preseason game on Monday due to contact tracing.

Spurs Sign First-Round Pick Vassell

The Spurs have signed lottery pick Devin Vassell, according to a team press release.

Assuming that Vassell received the usual 120% above the rookie scale for his draft slot, the swingman out of Florida State will make $4,033,440 during the upcoming season and a total of $18,593,499 over the next four seasons.

The 6’7” Vassell was chosen with the 11th overall pick, becoming the first Spurs lottery selection since 1997.

As a sophomore last season, Vassell averaged 12.7 PPG, 5.1 RPG and 1.6 APG in 28.7 MPG  while shooting 41.5% from 3-point range.

Draft Rumors: Hayes, Nesmith, Anthony, Okongwu, Hawks, More

In his latest mock draft in advance of tonight’s event, Jeremy Woo of SI.com shares several interesting tidbits, writing that Killian Hayes is “strongly in play” for the Pistons at No. 7 and suggesting there’s some concern about Aaron Nesmith‘s injured foot, which ended his season at Vanderbilt.

Woo also hears from sources that Cole Anthony has interviewed in recent days with multiple teams outside the top 20 and that the Celtics and Spurs would be among the teams with interest in Onyeka Okongwu if he slides out of the top 10 due to his foot injury.

Woo reports that there’s “significant traction” for Devin Vassell within the Knicks‘ front office, making him a viable option at No. 8 if the team stays put. Finally, Woo says the Celtics have shown interest in Duke big man Vernon Carey Jr., who could be an option at No. 26 or No. 30.

Here’s more on the 2020 NBA draft:

  • The Hawks are currently planning to keep and use the No. 6 pick tonight, a source tells Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). That could change if Atlanta gets a surprise last-minute offer, Wasserman cautions, but for the time being, it sounds as if the team is comfortable staying put.
  • We still don’t know with any certainty which player the Timberwolves will select with the No. 1 pick tonight, but Georgia guard Anthony Edwards has emerged as the betting favorite at Las Vegas sportsbooks, writes David Purdum of ESPN.com.
  • While USC big man Onyeka Okongwu may not be ready for training camp due to a foot injury, it sounds like the issue shouldn’t impact his draft stock too significantly. One source who spoke to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer (Twitter link) predicted that Okongwu will still likely come off the board before the Wizards pick at No. 9.

Draft Rumors: Wolves, Edwards, Ball, P. Williams, Hawks, Knicks, More

With the 2020 NBA draft just two days away, several draft experts are publishing their final mocks of the year, nearly five months after the event was initially scheduled to take place. Jonathan Givony of ESPN, Jeremy Woo of SI.com, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic, and Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report are among those who published new mock drafts today. Let’s round up a few of the key pieces of intel from those mocks…

  • Sources tell Vecenie that the Timberwolves still haven’t finalized a decision on what they’ll do with their No. 1 pick, as they expect “real” trade offers to start coming in during the next couple days. However, Givony and Woo have both heard that most teams around the NBA are operating as if the Wolves will select Anthony Edwards if they stay put.
  • LaMelo Ball‘s private workouts with teams last week were strong, according to Givony, who suggests that the Warriors were among the teams impressed by what they saw from Ball. Still, Givony and other draft experts view James Wiseman as Golden State’s most likely pick at No. 2.
  • There has been plenty of chatter about Florida State forward Patrick Williams, whose ceiling is as high as No. 4 to the Bulls, according to both Woo and Givony.
  • Opposing front offices say the Hawks (No. 6) have been the most active team in trade talks, according to Givony, who says Atlanta could push for an impact player (such as Jrue Holiday or Victor Oladipo) or trade down and pick up another young player.
  • Sources tell Wasserman that the Knicks (No. 8) appear to be “looking hardest” at Devin Vassell, Isaac Okoro, and Kira Lewis Jr. Sources have also linked Obi Toppin to New York for some time, per Woo, though the Dayton forward is less likely to be on the board at No. 8.
  • Assuming the Suns keep the No. 10 pick, sharpshooter Aaron Nesmith is thought to be high on their list, says Wasserman.
  • While the Celtics have looked into packaging their three first-rounders (Nos. 14, 26, and 30) for a mid-lottery pick, interest in that sort of deal appears to be lukewarm, according to Woo, who says Boston may be more likely to make smaller trades with their picks.
  • Sources tell Wasserman that the Trail Blazers (No. 16) have expressed interest in Serbian forward Aleksej Pokusevski, while Vecenie says Jay Scrubb‘s name is the one he has heard linked most frequently to Portland.
  • The Bucks‘ pick at No. 24 is one to watch in trade talks as Milwaukee tries to upgrade its roster, writes Vecenie. If they keep the pick, Josh Green is among the options the Bucks are eyeing, per Wasserman.

Draft Notes: Anthony, Vassell, Maledon, Maxey

Southeast Division clubs have shown the most interest in North Carolina point guard Cole Anthony. He’s had individual workouts for the Wizards, Heat and Magic, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News tweets. The son of former NBA guard Greg Anthony is ranked 19th on ESPN’s Best Available list. The Wizards own the No. 9 pick, with Orlando holding the No. 15 selection and Miami sitting at No. 20.

We have more draft news:

  • Florida State guard Devin Vassell, ranked 11th by ESPN, has worked out for a handful of teams, Steve Popper of Newsday tweets. Vassell said he’s visited with the Knicks, Warriors, Celtics, Hawks and Magic. The presence of the Hawks (No. 6 pick) and Knicks (No. 8) suggest Vassell could go in the top 10. Golden State’s interest is intriguing, suggesting Vassell would be a target if the club trades down from the No. 2 pick.
  • French point guard Theo Maledon has worked out for three Atlantic Division clubs as well as the Spurs, Brian Lewis of the New York Post tweets. The Nets (19th pick), Celtics (three first-rounders) and Raptors (No. 29) have also taken a look at Maledon, who is rated 24th overall by ESPN.
  • As of Thursday, the Pelicans were the only team to host Tyrese Maxey, Rod Beard of the Detroit News tweets. The Kentucky shooting guard is 14th on ESPN’s list and New Orleans holds the 13th pick, so its interest late in the lottery makes sense.

Draft Rumors: Warriors, Vassell, Suns, Spurs, Mavs, More

The Warriors continue to actively discuss trades involving the No. 2 pick, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Insider link), who writes within his latest mock draft that the Bulls, Pistons, and Knicks are among the candidates to make a deal with Golden State.

If the Warriors remain at No. 2, the team seems more likely to select Memphis center James Wiseman than Georgia guard Anthony Edwards, per Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report. Wasserman has heard that there are some voices in Golden State’s front office against drafting Edwards, as well as mixed opinions within the front office on LaMelo Ball.

As Wasserman details, the Warriors have also expressed “legitimate” interest in sharpshooting wing Devin Vassell, but the assumption is that the club wouldn’t take the Florida State prospect at No. 2 — he’d be an option in a trade-down scenario. Wasserman adds that Vassell’s camp is confident he’ll go in the middle of the lottery and is unlikely to slip past the Kings at No. 12.

Here are a few more draft-related updates and rumors:

  • According to Givony, the Suns (No. 10) are “looking heavily” at point guards and wing players, especially prospects who can complement Devin Booker, while the Spurs (No. 11) are eyeing both big men and wings in the hopes of bolstering their frontcourt.
  • The Mavericks have expressed some interest in trading up into the lottery, league sources tell Jeremy Woo of SI.com. Dallas currently holds the 18th and 31st overall picks.
  • Teams with picks in the 20s aren’t expecting Precious Achiuwa to be available, according to Wasserman, who says the Memphis forward will likely be picked in the 9-18 range.
  • Multiple teams believe Arizona shooting guard Josh Green could slip a little, with some clubs viewing him as a “fringe first-rounder,” writes Wasserman.
  • Jaden McDaniels, Tyrell Terry, Daniel Oturu, Tyrese Maxey, and RJ Hampton are among the first-round candidates with the widest projected draft ranges, per Wasserman.

Nuggets Exploring Trading Into Top 10 Of Draft

The Nuggets are exploring the possibility of trading up into the top 10 of this year’s draft, two league sources tell Mike Singer of The Denver Post. The team currently holds the No. 22 overall pick.

Moving into the top 10 wouldn’t be easy for the Nuggets, who would likely have to give up some combination of young players and/or future draft picks. A source tells Singer that a deal is probably unlikely, though a handful of lottery selections – including those belonging to the Hawks (No. 6), Wizards (No. 9), and Celtics (No. 14) – are believed to be available.

It’s unclear which prospect the Nuggets would be targeting if they trade up into the top 10 — or if they might simply be looking to acquire a more appealing draft pick to flip in a package for an impact player. Singer contends that Tyrese Haliburton, Isaac Okoro, and Devin Vassell are among the potential top-10 picks who would be fits in Denver.

If the Nuggets don’t make a trade and remain at No. 22, they’re confident they’ll still end up with a player they like, a source tells Singer.

Draft Notes: Haliburton, Wiseman, Ball, International Players

In a draft full of uncertain prospects, Iowa State’s Tyrese Haliburton may be the safest pick, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. Haliburton offers good size for a point guard at 6’5″ with a 6’9″ wingspan. He’s also an elite passer, an effective shooter and has natural leadership qualities.

“I’ve had a lot of No. 1, No. 2 picks, and this guy is a difference maker,” said Joe Abunassar, who trained Haliburton at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas after the season was shut down. “As teams look at him, part of that is his approach, his mentality, his personality. Everyone steps up their game when he steps in the game. He’s the most humble guy. I know with him, what you’re getting is a guy that’s going to win games for your franchise.”

Abunasser said Haliburton has gotten stronger since the college basketball season ended, adding roughly 15 to 18 pounds to his frame. With so many lottery teams needing a point guard, he could go higher than projected on draft night.

“He’s a winner. He has an amazing personality,” Abunassar added. “He’s contagious. He’s something that if I was a GM, I’d say we need guys like that.”

There’s more draft news to pass along:

  • There’s increasing chatter around the league that former Memphis center James Wiseman is the most likely No. 1 pick, according to Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report. Sources tell Wasserman that some Golden State officials believe Wiseman will be selected first, whether the Timberwolves keep their pick or not. Sources also say the Hornets “want Wiseman badly” and are interested in trading up to get him.
  • Warriors ownership may put pressure on the front office to select LaMelo Ball with the second pick if Wiseman is off the board, Wasserman adds in the same story. A source close to the team claims Ball has supporters and detractors in the front office. Golden State remains in the market to trade down, with Deni Avdija and Devin Vassell as possible targets.
  • More international prospects have pulled their names out of the draft ahead of today’s deadline, according to Nicola Lupo of SportandoNikola Miskovic, Marko Simonovic and Darko Bajo, all of ABA Liga, have all withdrawn. At No. 70, Simonovic was the only one in ESPN’s list of the top 100 prospects. Serbian big man Filip Petrusev (story link), who is 59th on ESPN’s list, and Lithuanian guard Rokas Jokubaitis (story link) are also skipping this year’s draft. On Saturday, we shared decisions from seven other overseas players.