Devin Vassell

Health Updates: Luka, LeBron, Bam, Smart, Vassell, Bol

Luka Doncic is listed as questionable for Tuesday’s contest at the Clippers, the Mavericks announced (via Twitter). The star guard is dealing with left ankle soreness.

Doncic is one of the NBA’s best players and a leading MVP candidate, so obviously his potential absence would be detrimental to the team’s chances — Dallas has gone 0-4 this season without him, including Sunday’s loss at Oklahoma City.

The 23-year-old is having a remarkable season. Through 37 games (36.9 MPG), he’s averaging a league-leading 34.0 PPG, plus 8.8 RPG, 8.7 APG and 1.6 SPG on .499/.355/.742 shooting. The points, steals, FG% and 3PT% are all career highs, as is his 61.3 true shooting percentage.

The Mavs are currently 23-18, the No. 4 seed in the West.

Here are some more health updates from around the NBA:

  • After previously being downgraded to questionable with left ankle soreness, Lakers star LeBron James has now been ruled out for tonight’s matchup at Denver, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. In his 20th season, the reigning Western Conference player of the week is averaging 29.1 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 6.7 APG and 1.0 SPG on .510/.295/.756 shooting through 31 games (35.9 MPG).
  • Heat center Bam Adebayo has a right hand injury, which is why he sat out the final 5:11 of Sunday’s loss to Brooklyn, per Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald (subscriber link). Adebayo said he’s actually been dealing with it for a few days, but the injury was aggravated in the first half. “I don’t know how he’ll feel tomorrow,” head coach Erik Spoelstra said. “There was a really hard hand contusion in the first half and he tried to gut it out in the second half, and you could see he was basically playing with one hand. It was just extremely sore. So I had to make that tough call and take the decision out of his hands in the fourth quarter and we’ll just evaluate him tomorrow.” Adebayo said X-rays were negative, and an MRI on Monday revealed a wrist contusion, but nothing more serious. He’s officially listed as questionable for Tuesday’s contest vs. the Thunder, according to Chiang (Twitter link).
  • Celtics guard Marcus Smart has been ruled out of Monday’s game against Chicago, tweets Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Smart is dealing with a left knee contusion. Fellow guards Derrick White and Malcolm Brogdon should see an uptick in minutes with Smart sidelined.
  • The Spurs didn’t announce a timeline for Devin Vassell‘s return following knee surgery, but head coach Gregg Popovich said on Friday that the third-year guard is expected to be back later this season. “I’m thinking maybe a little after the All-Star break,” he said, according to Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link).
  • Forward Bol Bol has cleared the league’s health and safety protocols and will rejoin the Magic for Tuesday’s contest at Portland, writes Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel (subscriber link). Bol will ultimately miss four games after entering the protocols last Tuesday — he’s out for tonight’s matchup at Sacramento. The 23-year-old is having a breakout fourth season for Orlando, averaging 12.0 PPG, 7.1 RPG and 1.6 BPG on .588/.388/.739 shooting through 37 games (32 starts, 26.1 MPG).

Spurs’ Devin Vassell Will Have Left Knee Scoped

Spurs guard Devin Vassell is set to have his injured left knee scoped, the team has announced in a press statement.

The third-year guard sat out San Antonio’s 117-114 loss to the Knicks Wednesday with knee soreness, and has missed three of the team’s last four games due to the issue. Head coach Gregg Popovich had previously claimed the injury would make Vassell’s status day-to-day.

San Antonio indicates that Vassell is set to go under the knife on January 11 in New York, with Dr. Riley J. Williams scheduled to operate on the pesky joint.

Through 29 games thus far in 2022/23, the 6’5″ wing is averaging a career-high 19.4 PPG on .445/.404/793 shooting splits. He is also chipping in 4.0 RPG, 3.6 APG and 1.2 SPG as the second-leading scorer for the 12-26 Spurs.

Though a recovery timeline has yet to be established, losing Vassell for any extended period will hamper the on-court product for San Antonio. Given that the Spurs have appeared open to trying their lottery luck this summer, the club may ultimately not mind a lengthy absence for one of its biggest contributors.

Reserve wing Romeo Langford started in Vassell’s stead last night against New York, and could be in line for a major uptick in minutes and touches as Vassell recuperates.

Injury Notes: Caruso, Warren, Payton, Vassell, Payne

Alex Caruso was ruled out for the remainder of Wednesday’s win over the Nets after suffering a sprained right ankle, the Bulls announced (via Twitter). The veteran guard rolled the ankle when he jumped and landed on Ben Simmons‘ foot, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link).

As Johnson notes (via Twitter), it’s an unfortunate setback for the defensive stalwart, who recently returned from a three-game absence after dealing with a concussion and shoulder sprain. We’ll have to await further updates to see if Caruso will miss more time with the injury.

Here are a few more injury notes from around the NBA:

  • Nets forward T.J. Warren suffered a left rib contusion in the same game and was ruled out for the remainder of the contest, tweets Brian Lewis of The New York Post. After playing just four games over the previous two seasons, Warren has provided a nice spark off Brooklyn’s bench in 2022/23, averaging 10.3 PPG, 3.4 RPG and 1.5 APG on .548/.318/.857 shooting through 13 games (20.2 MPG).
  • Trail Blazers guard Gary Payton II made his season debut on Monday and the team definitely appreciated his “all-out effort,” writes Jason Quick of The Athletic. “Most teams don’t have a guy like him,” head coach Chauncey Billups said. Unfortunately, the free agent addition was ruled out in advance of Wednesday’s loss to the Wolves, as he’s dealing with a right ankle sprain (Twitter link).
  • Devin Vassell is having a breakout season for the Spurs, but he continues to be hampered by left knee soreness. The third-year guard was out for Wednesday’s loss to the Knicks, with head coach Gregg Popovich referring to his status as day-to-day due to injury management, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link).
  • In his just his second game back from right foot soreness, which caused him to miss nine games, Suns guard Cameron Payne aggravated the injury in Wednesday’s loss to Cleveland, per Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic (Twitter link). Payne said he tripped when called for a foul on Donovan Mitchell and was ruled out for the second half. Our team just called it. Just told me to wrap it up for the night,” he said.

Southwest Notes: Mavericks, Doncic, Wood, Rockets, Vassell

The Mavericks will play a preseason game next fall in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi, Marc Stein reports in a Substack story.

Dallas will also play a game against perennial Spanish League power Real Madrid during the overseas journey. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wanted to arrange a preseason game in Madrid for Luka Doncic, who played for Real Madrid until he became an NBA lottery selection.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

Southwest Notes: Wood, LaVine, Pelicans, Vassell

Mavericks center Christian Wood, inserted into the team’s starting lineup in recent weeks, seems to finally be adjusting to his new Dallas teammates, and his two-way output has blossomed of late, writes Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News.

“Any time a trade happens, it’s just not the numbers or analytics,” head coach Jason Kidd said. “A human athlete has to perform and has to make the adjustments. As much as we want trades to happen and for them to be successful overnight, it just takes time… You can see he’s starting to get comfortable, and his teammates are getting comfortable with him, and now it’s just a matter of building on the foundation that we’ve built.”

“He’s active,” All-NBA guard Luka Doncic said of Wood earlier this week. “He listens to us, and that’s what he needs to do. He helped us a lot, not just [Sunday], but the last couple games he’s been amazing.”

Across his last eight contests, Wood has been averaging 20.3 PPG on 51.8% shooting and 9.1 RPG, while his net rating increased to plus-8.4 points per 100 possessions.

“I feel like my defense has picked up a little bit in these few weeks,” Wood said, “and these guys just having that confidence to trust in me to make defensive plays.”

Wood is now eligible for a four-year contract extension worth as much as $77MM, but Caplan notes that neither the Mavericks nor Wood’s reps seem to have made major inroads into negotiations as of now.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Maximum-salaried Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine could emerge as an intriguing trade target for the Mavericks, partnering Doncic with an elite backcourt scorer, provided the oft-hurt LaVine can stay healthy. Tim MacMahon of ESPN recently told colleague Zach Lowe on the latter’s Lowe Post podcast that some members of the Mavericks’ front office could have interest in LaVine. “I just know that there are fans of him that hold prominent positions within the Mavericks,” MacMahon said. “Again, I’m not sitting here and telling you there’s some great consensus. I think there’s enough fans of him where I wouldn’t totally rule it out.”
  • Though the Pelicans‘ lease on their current home court, Smoothie King Center, will expire in 2024, it does not appear that New Orleans is planning to migrate in the immediate future, writes Christian Clark of NOLA.com. “Their intention is to extend the lease,” vice president of stadiums for ASM Global Doug Thornton said. ASM Global handles lease negotiations with the Pelicans. “We’re going to determine what capital improvements need to be made. We’re always putting money into the arena. The question is how much?”
  • Spurs guard Devin Vassell has exhibited a skill set beyond just being a talented scorer, writes Jeff MacDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. Though Vassell has seen his scoring output improve from averaging 12.3 PPG last season to 19.6 PPG this season, the 22-year-old feels that he has grown as a leader as well for this rebuilding young San Antonio club. “I’ve had a good year when it comes to scoring, but it’s not just scoring,” Vassell said. He is set to sit tonight against the Knicks due to a sore left knee, Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News reports (Twitter link).

Southwest Notes: Walker, Hardy, Vassell, Zion

If there was a bright side to the Mavericks‘ 29-point loss to the Bulls Saturday night, it provided an opportunity for newly signed Kemba Walker to make his season debut, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News.

A late starting time Friday, followed by a flight, meant the Mavs didn’t arrive in Chicago until 3:45 a.m. Coach Jason Kidd held out Luka Doncic, Josh Green and Maxi Kleber, who are all dealing with minor injuries, creating an opportunity for Walker. He responded with eight points and five assists in 20 minutes while playing for the first time since February.

“I wouldn’t say (I felt) super-comfortable,” Walker said. “But it’s my first game with new guys, trying to see where I can fit in, so it might take a little time. Or might not, I don’t know. But it was good to be out there with those guys. They made me feel good. They’ve been treating me well since I got here.”

The Mavericks also got an extended look at Jaden Hardy, a 20-year-old rookie who has spent much of the season in the G League. The second-round pick played 23 minutes Saturday and scored 15 points.

“It was a long travel day, but it felt good being out there being with the guys,” he said. “It was a tough loss, but I think we’ll put this one in the past and be ready for the next one.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Spurs swingman Devin Vassell sat out Thursday’s game with knee soreness and wasn’t sure he was going to play Saturday until warmups, tweets Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. He was on a minutes restriction, but scored 18 points off the bench. “I am going to play through it the whole season,” Vassell said of the knee issue, which has caused him to miss five games so far. “It’s good sometimes and it’s not sometimes. But I have to play through it. I have to be here for my team, so that’s what I am going to do.”
  • Zion Williamson‘s late-game 360 dunk to punctuate the Pelicans‘ win over the Suns Friday night led to a skirmish (video link), but he considered it a manner of revenge for last season’s playoff loss, per Andrew Lopez of ESPN. Several players exchanged words after the dunk, but no punches were thrown. “I got carried away a little bit. I admit that,” Williamson said. “But you know, I was in that locker room when my brothers were down because the Suns sent us home last year. That’s a tough moment to be a part of. So in that moment, I got carried away. I admit that. … If they were to do the same thing, I wouldn’t have no problem with it.”
  • The Pelicans are still without Brandon Ingram and Herb Jones for today’s rematch with Phoenix, tweets Will Guillory of The Athletic. Ingram will miss his seventh game with a toe injury and Jones will sit out his fourth with an injured ankle.

Texas Notes: Wood, Doncic, Garuba, Spurs

All-Star Mavericks guard Luka Doncic is off to a high-scoring start for Dallas, but it hasn’t entirely translated to team success for the 6-5 club. Seth Partnow of The Athletic explores whether Doncic may be carrying too big a burden for the Mavericks in the team’s heliocentric offense.

Through 11 games, Doncic is averaging 33.6 PPG for the club. Partnow notes that so much of the Mavericks’ offensive attack revolves around Doncic, operating as the team’s primary play-maker and scorer, that he is already showing signs of exhaustion late in games. Partnow writes that the effects of handling so much of the team’s offense are even visible in the second halves of recent games, when Doncic’s output subsides somewhat.

There’s more out of the Lone Star State:

  • Mavericks reserve center Christian Wood missed his second consecutive game tonight due to a left knee sprain, the team announced (via Twitter). Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News writes that Wood injured his knee in the second half of the team’s 96-94 win against the Nets on Monday, and did not travel with Dallas for its back-to-back road games against the Magic and Wizards, both losses.
  • Rockets backup big man Usman Garuba, who played for Spain in the EuroBasket tournament earlier this year, spoke with Toni Canyameras of Mundo Deportivo about his current role in Houston. “They told me that if I played as in the EuroBasket, with that intensity, I would be playing minutes and it is what I am doing, trying to give everything on the court and improving, knowing that I can give more and improve and be ready for everything,” Garuba said. The 6’8″ 20-year-old is averaging 3.7 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.2 APG, and 0.4 BPG through the team’s first 10 contests.
  • Young Spurs swingmen Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell have been struggling to convert their jump shots in key moments recently, but both players are hoping to learn from their misses, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. “I’ll be in the gym tomorrow,” Vassell said after missing an overtime buzzer-beater try against the Grizzlies last night. “Don’t worry about it.” Both players are averaging over 20 PPG for the first time in their NBA careers, having become primary focal points in San Antonio’s offense.

Western Notes: Leonard, Wiseman, Vassell, Adams

There’s no timetable for Kawhi Leonard‘s return to action, though coach Tyronn Lue says things are moving in the right direction, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN reports.

Leonard will miss his eighth straight game when the Clippers host Cleveland on Monday. He was sidelined all of last season while rehabbing from a knee injury and has only appeared in two games this season.

“There’s really not a time frame of when he is going to be back,” Lue said. “The biggest thing is just the testing that he has to go through with the medical and the slow progression of just getting better every single day. And so we’re just taking it day by day right now, not really a timetable.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • James Wiseman has made a minimal impact off the Warriors bench, but coach Steve Kerr says the former No. 2 overall pick can handle the stress of his slow start, Shayna Rubin of the San Jose Mercury News tweets. “He knows how to overcome adversity,” Kerr said. “We have to help him because modern life is unforgiving and people don’t take into account organic growth. Everyone wants results right now. It’s not going to be that way.”
  • Spurs swingman Devin Vassell is hopeful that his minutes limit will soon be lifted, according to Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express News. Vassell played 25 minutes apiece in two weekend games after missing four games due to a sore knee. “I was itching to get back out there,” Vassell said. “I’ve been sitting the past couple of games, and I was sitting there watching long enough, so I wanted to be out there.”
  • The Grizzlies signed Steven Adams to a two-year extension because he’s the anchor of their interior defense. His toughness and strength continues to marvel his teammates, Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal writes. “He makes me feel like I shouldn’t be out here,” said forward Brandon Clarke, who often matches up against Adams in practice. “It’s like I’m trying to get the board and he’s not moving. He’s the strongest person I’ve ever played against.” Adams was out of the lineup on Monday due to ankle soreness, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe tweets.

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: Wood, Tate, Pelicans, Spurs

Mavericks star Luka Doncic likes what he has seen from new teammate Christian Wood so far this season, as Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News writes. Wood has racked up 50 points and 20 rebounds in just 49 minutes of action in his first two games with Dallas.

“He’s a great player,” said Doncic, who has a +26.3 net rating when sharing the court with Wood. “He listens to us. He accepts his role, and he’s just doing amazing stuff out there. It’s only two games, but he’s going to be very good for us.”

Wood, who has come off the bench so far, is making a strong case to be promoted to the starting five, but the Mavericks are unlikely to make any immediate changes to their lineup, according to Tim Cato of The Athletic. Dallas’ coaching staff wants to assess its current rotation across a larger sample before drawing any conclusions, Cato explains.

“We’ll look at a 10-game stretch, maybe,” head coach Jason Kidd said. “We can’t do two games and figure that’s the way we’re going to roll. You don’t get enough data.”

Let’s round up a few more items from around the Southwest…

  • Barring a setback, Rockets forward Jae’Sean Tate will return to action on Wednesday in Utah, sources tell Kelly Iko of The Athletic (Twitter link). Tate, who signed a new three-year contract with Houston in the offseason, has been on the shelf for the team’s first four games of the season due to a right ankle injury.
  • Brandon Ingram (concussion protocol), Zion Williamson (right posterior hip / low back contusion) and Herb Jones (right knee hyperextension) have all been ruled out for the Pelicans‘ game vs. Dallas on Tuesday, the team announced (via Twitter). All three players were initially listed as questionable, so they’ll presumably be considered day-to-day going forward.
  • The Spurs, widely expected to be a player in the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes, are off to a 3-1 start this season. Swingman Devin Vassell admitted after Monday’s win in Minnesota that the outside expectations for the team have been a motivating factor. “I try not to listen to the outside noise, but I’m not going to lie, it does get frustrating when everybody is talking about tanking, tanking, tanking,” Vassell said, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. “We are professional athletes. We all want to play. We all want to win. And that’s how we are going to approach every game.”