Jae'Sean Tate

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.

Southwest Notes: J. Smith, Fernando, Bassey, Jackson Jr.

The RocketsJabari Smith and the Magic’s Paolo Banchero had their first regular season matchup Monday since Orlando’s last-minute decision to bypass Smith and make Banchero the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Banchero has gotten off to a sizzling start and is the early favorite for Rookie of the Year, while Smith is still adjusting to the NBA.

“He just needs to feel comfortable on the floor so we’re figuring that out as we go along,” Houston coach Stephen Silas said. “Having him on the elbow not just as a scorer but as a passer, we’re going to explore that. He has shown the ability to shoot the pull-up in transition as well as give it up and trail in transition. His 3-point shooting really sets up the rest of his game. People are hugged up to him and they close out to him. So, he can get to his drives or his pull-ups or whatever off that.”

Smith, who is shooting just 30.3% from the field and 30% from three-point range, said he hasn’t been discouraged by the slow start. He admits the transition from college is difficult, but he’s focused on learning to play at the NBA level.

“I feel like it’s just confidence, just trusting my work, being aggressive, being real precise with what I’m doing, not hesitating, and just playing my game,” Smith said. “I feel like it’s going to come. I’m not worried at all.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Bruno Fernando, who was the Rockets‘ starting center for the first two games of the season, is working to return from left patellar tendinosis, Feigen adds in a separate story. The team estimates he may need two more weeks to get medically cleared. “Bruno is … moving around pretty well but he has to see the doctor when we get back (from the road trip),” Silas said. “We’re making sure that he’s OK to continue ramping up. He’s ramping up. Hopefully, he’ll be back sooner than later. Conditioning definitely is a part of it.” Silas couldn’t offer a timetable for Jae’Sean Tate, who has been limited to three games because of a sore ankle.
  • The injury to Zach Collins will create an opportunity for Charles Bassey, who signed a two-way deal with the Spurs last month, tweets Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. Coach Gregg Popovich has been impressed with what he’s seen from Bassey so far. “He kind of looks the part, doesn’t look like a deer in the headlights or anything like that,” Popovich said (Twitter link). “He is out there playing. He is aggressive, a good defender, moved the ball well.”
  • Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. recently played five-on-five for the first time since offseason foot surgery, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN. “It’s kind of baby steps right now,” coach Taylor Jenkins said.

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.”

Western Notes: Lakers, Nuggets, Rockets, Potter, Liddell, Spurs

Although he didn’t play in the Lakers‘ preseason finale on Friday due to lower back soreness, Anthony Davis will have “no restrictions, whatsoever” when the team’s regular season tips off on Tuesday in Golden State, head coach Darvin Ham said (link via Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times).

Russell Westbrook, who sustained a left hamstring injury in Friday’s game, could “definitely” be available for the opener, according to Ham, but reserve point guard Dennis Schröder likely won’t be, as Turner writes.

Ham said that Schröder’s thumb ligament injury was still being evaluated as of Sunday, and while he’s still considered day-to-day, the ailment may take a little time to heal, tweets Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Nikola Jokic (wrist) and Jamal Murray (hamstring) are both expected to be available for the Nuggets‘ regular season opener on Wednesday in Utah, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Barring an unexpected setback, it will be the first time Denver’s two stars have shared the court in a regular season game since April 2021.
  • The Rockets will likely have a handful of players on the injury report to start the season, but head coach Stephen Silas said on Sunday that he’s hopeful rookie Jabari Smith (ankle) will be available for the team’s opener, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Silas added that Garrison Mathews (illness) and Daishen Nix (back) are “close” to being ready too. Jae’Sean Tate (ankle) is the least likely of the group to be available for the opener, Feigen writes.
  • The two-way contracts signed in recent days by Jazz center Micah Potter and Pelicans forward E.J. Liddell both cover two years, Hoops Rumors has confirmed. As our tracker shows, those are the fifth and sixth two-way deals signed this offseason that are for two years instead of one.
  • Noting that the Spurs have had “so many guys over the years” develop their games in the G League, head coach Gregg Popovich said two-way players Dominick Barlow and Jordan Hall will likely spend most of their time in Austin this season, per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. “He’ll spend some time in the G League and play lots of minutes,” Popovich said, specifically addressing Barlow’s situation. “If he was with us right now, he’s not going to get on the court that much, which doesn’t help him develop.”

Rockets Notes: Offseason, Tate, Porter, Smith

Rockets players spent most of their summer training together in Houston, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Instead of holding mini-camps at popular vacation sites, as the team has done in the past, virtually the entire roster has been working out at the Toyota Center.

“It’s been a good summer,” general manager Rafael Stone said. “I’m very happy. The summer is really about individuals. It’s less about the team. It’s more about where a specific guy, he saw a weakness; he worked on it. We identified something we wanted him to focus on; he did. We’ve seen that.”

After back-to-back years of posting the NBA’s worst record, the Rockets are rebuilding around youth, with seven total first-round picks in the last two drafts. Kevin Porter Jr. believes the offseason workouts have been beneficial for this year’s first-rounders, Jabari Smith, Tari Eason and TyTy Washington, as they prepare for their rookie season.

“We’ve been together for a couple months now,” Porter said. “I’ve been seeing growth and development. The new guys have been learning fast. I’ve been learning fast. So, it’s been good. They fit right in. They fit already.”

There’s more from Houston:

  • Jae’Sean Tate, whose offseason included a new three-year, $20.6MM contract, believes the Rockets are moving in the right direction, Feigen adds in the same piece. “I definitely think we’ve been on the bottom the last couple years so there’s only (one) way we can go and that is up,” Tate said. “Just getting more experience with our rookie class from last year. I’m going into my third year and Kevin is going into his fourth. I just think that experience is going to help us out this year and getting that year under our belt but also continue to build a culture with this new class coming in.”
  • The most important question for the organization is determining whether Porter is the right point guard for the future, Kelly Iko of The Athletic states in a preseason preview of the Rockets. Porter got off to a shaky start in his first full season at the position, but he showed improvement as the year wore on. Iko believes Porter and the Rockets both want to get a rookie scale extension worked out before the new season begins.
  • Smith will be a better fit at power forward than the traded Christian Wood because he won’t demand the ball on offense, Iko adds in the same story.

Southwest Notes: Wright, Murphy, Tate, Abdelfattah

Power forward Moses Wright is making an impact while playing for the Mavericks‘ Summer League team, writes Dwain Price of Mavs.com.

The 6’8″ big man averaged a fairly pedestrian 8.5 PPG on 5-of-16 shooting and 5.0 RPG across the Mavericks’ first two Summer League contests, missed the team’s Tuesday matchup against the Suns, and then returned reinvigorated to play the Bucks on Thursday. He poured in 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting from the floor and grabbed 11 rebounds as a reserve.

Wright, signed to a two-way contract during the 2021/22 season with Dallas, is currently an unrestricted free agent.

“I think he was the most impactful player in the game,” Mavericks Summer League head coach George Galanopoulos said. “When he’s playing like that – just high energy and active motor, and with an edge and a disposition about him and that mentality — he’s one of the better players in the gym wherever he goes.”

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Second-year Pelicans small forward Trey Murphy showed signs of improvement during his 2022 Summer League stint, writes William Guillory of The Athletic. Murphy, the No. 17 pick out of Virginia in 2021, averaged 26.5 PPG across the only two Las Vegas games New Orleans opted to play him. The Pelicans are hoping that Murphy, who evolved into a deep-bench option on a playoff-bound 2021/22 club by the end of his rookie season, will continue to develop this season. “At the end of the day, I know the stuff I’ve been working on,” Murphy said. “Just creating off the bounce and things like that… I’m not too worried about the shot. If my shot’s falling and I’m getting to the basket like I was tonight, that’ll be a pretty good recipe.”
  • In an interview with Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, Rockets forward Jae’Sean Tate discussed how his confidence in his own NBA-caliber abilities helped him while playing abroad. “I’ve always thought I was an NBA player,” Tate said. “There was never a question of if I was good enough. I just knew that I was going to have to be able to put myself in a position to get to my dream. I think [agent] EJ Kusnyer did a good job of just putting me in certain situations that allowed me to be successful, allowed me to show my worth, and allowed me to be me while bringing what I do to a team every step of the way.” After going undrafted out of Ohio State in 2018, the 6’4″ small forward first signed on with Belgian club the Antwerp Giants during the 2018/19 season. He then headed to Australia to play for NBL club the Sydney Kings. He was named to the 2020 All-NBL First Team before joining the Rockets in 2020.
  • Rockets assistant coach Mahmoud Abdelfattah credits Houston with updating his thinking about shot selection, writes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Abdelfattah worked his way through the ranks with the club’s NBAGL affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, and eventually joined Houston’s NBA club as an assistant under Stephen Silas. “Offensively, I’m a big believer of shot selection, taking efficient shots,” Abdelfattah said. “It goes back to taking mid-range shots or not taking them, goes back to getting to the rim, getting to the free-throw line… I like to let the guys play with a lot of freedom and maybe take a couple of what some would call questionable shots or moves. “

Texas Notes: Tate, Washington, Harrison, Days

Rockets small forward Jae’Sean Tate is not resting on his laurels after signing a new three-season, $22.1MM contract with Houston this summer, writes Danielle Lerner of the Houston Chronicle. The 26-year-old hopes to improve his play all over the court.

“With the extension, it just really helped me a lot because it just made me relax and focus on basketball instead of trying to just stress about stuff,” Tate said. “Since [signing the deal], I’ve been even more confident in my overall game. My shooting, my ball-handling, my ability to talk and lead.”

Tate indicated he is working out multiple times daily in Houston, including at the Rockets’ home arena, the Toyota Center. During his second season in 2021/22, the 6’4″ Ohio State alum averaged 11.8 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 2.8 APG and 0.9 SPG across 26.4 MPG for the 20-62 Rockets. He appeared in 78 games, starting all but one.

There’s more out of the Lone Star State:

  • Rockets rookie point guard TyTy Washington revealed a COVID-19 pandemic-era preparatory holdover that has helped him track player tendencies: a notebook he kept from 2020 through his lone season at Kentucky. Danielle Lerner of the Houston Chronicle writes that the 20-year-old intends to begin jotting down observations into a fresh notebook during his first NBA season with Houston. Washington would watch documentaries as well as current and classic NBA games and write down thoughts in his original notebook. “That one was kind of through high school and college, like younger me but more watching it as a fan,” he said. “But now it’s like, I’m at this level. So it’s no more watching it as a fan. It’s watching and trying to get better, watching it to learn stuff.” The 6’2″ guard was selected with the No. 29 pick by the Grizzlies on draft night before ultimately being dealt to Houston.
  • Mavericks GM Nico Harrison addressed a variety of interesting topics, including the departure of Jalen Brunson in free agency, the recovery timeline of Tim Hardaway Jr., and the fit of new center JaVale McGee, in a conversation with Mark Medina of NBA.com. “You lose a talent like Brunson, it’s definitely a blow,” Harrison acknowledged. “We knew it was a possibility that could happen. We did as good a job as you could do with anticipating something like this actually happening.”
  • Spurs Summer League forward Darius Days, who went undrafted out of LSU this year, is doing his darnedest to earn a two-way contract with San Antonio, writes Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News. The team has already signed center Dominick Barlow to one of its two-way slots. “You’ve got to have fun,” Days said of his opportunity. “This is going to determine the rest of our lives, but you’ve got to have fun at the same time.” In his final NCAA season, Days earned All-SEC honors, while averaging 13.7 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 1.5 SPG across 33 games, all starts. During a 97-84 Spurs loss Monday to the Rockets, Days scored 13 points and pulled down 11 rebounds. Orsborn notes that Days is competing with undrafted ex-St. Joseph’s rookie guard Jordan Hall and second-year forward Joe Wieskamp for a chance to nab a two-way deal.

Rockets Notes: Frontcourt, Tate, Gordon, Martin

Whether or not they hang onto Boban Marjanovic, the Rockets would like to add one more big man to their roster, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic, who says the club may use a two-way contract slot to add more depth up front. Trevor Hudgins currently occupies one of Houston’s two-way slots, but the other is empty.

Iko names Moses Brown, Freddie Gillespie, Bruno Fernando, and Mfiondu Kabengele as players who could be of interest to the Rockets as they look to add another frontcourt player.

According to Iko, Houston had some interest in Isaiah Roby after he was waived by Oklahoma City, but the Spurs ultimately claimed him off waivers. The Rockets were ahead of San Antonio in the waiver order and had a trade exception available to claim Roby, but they already have 18 players on guaranteed contracts for 15 spots, so they likely weren’t eager to bring in another.

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • The $500K annual bonus in Jae’Sean Tate‘s new three-year contract are tied to the Rockets winning at least 35 games, Iko reports. So Tate would earn an extra $1.5MM if Houston wins 35 or more games in each of the next three seasons.
  • The Rockets were close to trading Eric Gordon on draft night, possibly to the Sixers, but the deal fell apart, according to Iko, who says the Heat, Bucks, and Suns also pursued Gordon before the draft. Sources tell The Athletic that Philadelphia re-engaged Houston on the veteran shooting guard at the start of free agency, but there’s certainly no guarantee he’ll be moved before the season begins.
  • The Rockets aren’t in any rush to trade Kenyon Martin Jr. either, says Iko, noting that Martin may “need to mend some internal relationships” if a trade doesn’t materialize and he remains in Houston.

Contract Details: J. Smith, Oladipo, Co. Martin, Payton, More

Jalen Smith‘s new deal with the Pacers, initially reported as a two-year agreement, is actually a three-year contract with a player option in year three, according to Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files (Twitter link). The deal also includes a trade kicker, says Agness.

Hoops Rumors can confirm Agness’ report and add that Smith’s trade kicker is worth 10%. The Pacers gave the big man the highest starting salary they legally could after the 2022/23 option in his rookie scale contract was turned down last year, resulting in a 2022/23 cap hit of $4,670,160 and subsequent 8% annual raises. Smith’s three-year deal has a total value of $15.13MM.

Here are a few more details on recently signed or agreed-upon contracts:

  • According to Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald, Victor Oladipo‘s two-year deal with the Heat will be worth in the neighborhood of $18MM. As we relayed on Wednesday evening, Oladipo agreed to lower his 2022/23 salary in exchange for a second-year option. Dewayne Dedmon‘s two-year contract with the Heat, meanwhile, is worth $4.7MM in ’22/23 with a non-guaranteed $4.32MM salary in ’23/24.
  • Cody Martin‘s four-year contract with the Hornets is worth a total of $31.36MM, Hoops Rumors has learned. Martin’s $8.68MM salary in the final season of the deal (2025/26) is non-guaranteed.
  • Gary Payton II‘s three-year deal with the Trail Blazers has a starting salary of $8.3MM and is worth $26.15MM in total, slightly below its reported value of $28MM, Hoops Rumors has learned. The signing leaves Portland with a small portion of its mid-level exception remaining.
  • Jae’Sean Tate‘s three-year contract with the Rockets has a base value of $20.63MM, but can be worth up to $22.13MM if Tate earns all of his unlikely incentives. Kelly Iko of The Athletic previously reported that those incentives are tied to the team’s performance and that Tate’s contract includes a third-year team option.
  • Anfernee Simons‘ new four-year, $100MM contract with the Trail Blazers is fully guaranteed, without any incentives, Hoops Rumors has learned. It begins at $22.32MM in 2022/23 and eventually increases to $27.68MM in ’25/26.
  • New Raptors forward Otto Porter will earn $6MM in 2022/23, with a $6.3MM player option in ’23/24, Hoops Rumors has learned.

Southwest Notes: Spurs, Murray, Rockets, Tate, Zion

Spurs general manager Brian Wright said it was tough to see Dejounte Murray go after the team helped him develop over the past six years, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. The Spurs drafted Murray with the 29th pick of the 2016 draft.

We’ve watched him grow from his rookie year to being an All-Star last year,” Wright said in a news conference to announce the finalization of the trade that sent Murray to Atlanta. “You wish this job was full of easy decisions. The reality is, there’s a lot of hard decisions.”

Murray enjoyed a breakout season in 2021/22, averaging 21.1 PPG, 9.2 APG, 8.3 RPG, and a league-leading 2.0 SPG with a shooting line of .462/.327/.794 in 68 games (34.8 MPG). The 25-year-old was the runner-up for the Most Improved Player award.

San Antonio received three first-round picks and a pick swap in the deal, and while Wright certainly wasn’t in a celebratory mood, he said the offer from the Hawks was too good to pass up.

We just got to the place where the deal was the right thing to do,” Wright said.

Here’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Jae’Sean Tate‘s new three-year contract with the Rockets contains a team option in the final year, sources tell Kelly Iko of The Athletic (Twitter link). Tate will earn $7MM in 2022/23 and $6.5MM in ’23/24, and the deal also includes a bonus tied to how many games the team wins, Iko reports. The 26-year-old Tate averaged 11.8 PPG, 5.4 RPG and 2.8 APG on .498/.312/.707 shooting in 78 games (26.4 MPG) this season.
  • Rafael Stone, the general manager of the Rockets, chose to acquire multiple unprotected first-round picks and pick swaps when he sent James Harden to the Nets. That decision looks like a wise one now that Kevin Durant has requested a trade out of Brooklyn, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle, who details why he thinks the move might pay off for Houston — depending on what the Nets get in return for the superstar forward.
  • The news that the Pelicans are nearing an agreement on a five-year, maximum-salary rookie scale extension with Zion Williamson brings welcome stability to New Orleans, per William Guillory of The Athletic. As Guillory writes, the Pelicans have dealt with all kinds of turmoil over the years, the most recent being the rampant speculation that Williamson would request a trade or decide against signing a rookie contract extension, which obviously isn’t the case. Once the deal is officially inked, the franchise will have all of its core players signed for the next few years, and the terrific rookie class from ’21/22 to grow alongside them.