Jeremy Sochan

Southwest Notes: Gordon, Washington, Doncic, Sochan

The Rockets have the third-worst record in the NBA and Eric Gordon is discouraged by the lack of progress from his young teammates, tweets Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston. Talking to reporters after Saturday’s 20-point loss to the Knicks, Gordon said “there’s no improvement” when asked about the direction of the season.

“Same old thing all year,” Gordon said after the team committed 25 turnovers. “We have a small margin for error. … It’s a lot of things. It’s mindset. You got to play for one another. Do what’s right by your teammates. If you do that it’d be more fun. You give yourself a better chance to win.”

Gordon is the veteran leader on a team filled with players in their early 20s, and he’s the only member of the roster who has played a consistent role on a contender. Gordon is also a strong candidate to be moved if the Rockets can find an offer to their liking before the February 9 trade deadline.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Rookie guard TyTy Washington believes he was too tentative in his first few games with the Rockets after missing the early part of the season with an injury, writes Danielle Lerner of The Houston Chronicle. The first-round pick recently replaced Daishen Nix as the backup point guard, and he credits coaches and teammates for helping him to stop second guessing himself. “The coaching staff and everybody was telling me, ‘Do what you did to get you to this point,’” Washington said. “At first I was kind of like, just out there nervous just trying to fit in and stuff like that. And they just told me, ‘You never fit in your whole life. Do what you did to get you here.’” 
  • Mavericks guard Luka Doncic continued his scoring barrage on Saturday night with 51 points against the Spurs, per Raul Dominguez of The Associated Press. Doncic has scored at least 50 points three times in his last five games. “It’s incredible,” Christian Wood said. “In my seven years in the league, I’ve never seen anybody do what he’s able to do. He’s on an incredible run. He’s playing like an MVP. Clearly one of the best players in the league.”
  • The Spurs like what they’ve seen from lottery pick Jeremy Sochan, tweets Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express News. The 19-year-old forward has established himself as a starter and a strong defender in his first NBA season. “We’ve seen it from the beginning,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “He plays a great all-around game. He continues to work on his shooting. But he does everything for us defensively, moves the ball, handles the ball, plays some point.”

Spurs Sign Stanley Johnson, Waive Alize Johnson

3:07pm: The Spurs have officially signed Stanley Johnson, the team announced in a press release.

11:04am: The Spurs have waived big man Alize Johnson, who was on a non-guaranteed contract, the team announced today in a press release.

Johnson initially signed with San Antonio two weeks ago when the club was seeking frontcourt depth following injuries to forward Jeremy Sochan and center Jakob Poeltl. During his brief tenure in San Antonio, he logged 30 minutes across four games, scoring seven points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

Poeltl, who has a bone bruise in his knee, isn’t taking contact yet, so he’s probably still a ways off from playing, tweets Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. However, as Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News notes (via Twitter), Sochan returned to action on Monday, reducing the need for Johnson, who hadn’t appeared in the Spurs’ last two games.

With their newly opened 15th roster spot, the Spurs intend to sign free agent swingman Stanley Johnson to a one-year contract, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The eighth overall pick in the 2015 draft, Stanley Johnson recently signed a G League contract and joined the Sioux Falls Skyforce, Miami’s affiliate. He has appeared in three games since then and was off to a slow start, averaging 2.3 PPG, 3.7 RPG, and 3.0 APG in 19.2 minutes per game. The 26-year-old has converted just 2-of-16 field goal attempts, including 1-of-11 three-pointers.

Stanley Johnson appeared in 48 games for the Lakers last season, starting 27 of them and averaging 6.7 PPG, 3.2 RPG, and 1.7 APG on .466/.314/.716 shooting in 22.8 minutes per contest. He’s primarily known for his defensive versatility and the energy he brings to the court, having never made much of an impact on the offensive end.

The last two players the Spurs have signed to fill their 15th roster spot – Jordan Hall and Alize Johnson – have been on non-guaranteed deals, so it seems likely that Stanley Johnson’s contract will also be non-guaranteed. However, Charania’s report doesn’t confirm that.

Southwest Notes: Williamson, Hardy, Walker, Hall, Johnson

Zion Williamson finally played in his 100th NBA game on Monday. The biggest difference this season regarding the Pelicans, in Williamson’s mind, is that he feels a sense of continuity, Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times-Picayune writes.

“I didn’t even think about it,” Williamson said. “But that is a big milestone. I’m on three coaches. This is the first year the locker room has looked somewhat the same players-wise. The thing I can take away from that is it’s just good to have steady people around me now.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • On the same day they signed Kemba Walker, the Mavericks recalled rookie guard Jaden Hardy from the G League, the team’s PR department tweets. In nine games with the Texas Legends, the second round pick is averaging a G League-best 29.0 points on 54.8% shooting, including a 48.2% success rate on 3-pointers, as well as 4.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.0 blocks.
  • The Mavericks clearly had to do something with their backcourt to create more offense, though it’s uncertain whether Walker can provide that at this stage of his career, Tim Cato of The Athletic opines. Cato breaks down Dallas’ offensive struggles, noting that a lot of it has to do with the loss of free agent Jalen Brunson.
  • The Spurs were not disappointed with Jordan Hall but they waived him to address their frontcourt depth, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News tweets. They signed Alize Johnson in part due to quad injuries to Jakob Poeltl and Jeremy Sochan.

Spurs Rookie Jeremy Sochan Discusses Health, EuroBasket, Alamodome Game

Spurs rookie forward Jeremy Sochan is fully recovered from a COVID-19 infection and is confident he’ll be 100% healthy for training camp, reports Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News.

Sochan was unable to suit up for San Antonio during the team’s Las Vegas Summer League showing this year due to the novel coronavirus, but after weeks of working out, he says he is wholly recuperated ahead of training camp.

“I have been working out here daily,” Sochan said. “My body is feeling great.”

The 19-year-old was selected by the Spurs with the ninth pick in the 2022 draft out of Baylor, where he was named the 2021/22 Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year. Though his college numbers were fairly modest, Sochan’s defensive upside and athleticism make him an intriguing long-term prospect. In 30 games during his lone college season, he averaged 9.2 PPG on 47.4% shooting, 6.4 RPG, 1.8 APG and 1.3 SPG.

Here’s more from Sochan’s conversation:

  • The 6’9″ forward discussed the mental health routine he has been employing to keep himself centered since his Baylor days. “If I am going through something or if I have a string of games where I am not playing well or my shot is not falling, normally I try to communicate with the people around me, talk about it and try to solve stuff like that instead of keeping it to myself and having it eat me up,” Sochan said. “Communication is definitely key for me.”
  • Though he is now healthy, Sochan has opted to not suit up for the Polish national team in this year’s FIBA EuroBasket competition, which will tip off in Germany on September 1. “Of course, it is always an honor to play for the Polish national team,” said Sochan, who is eligible because his mother is Polish. “But this is going to be my first season in the NBA, playing 82 games. I’ve never done that before, so I think just being ready, being in the environment, being in San Antonio, is important to have the best season I can have.”
  • Sochan became more excited about his rookie season following the NBA’s release of the regular season schedule this week. He singled out two games in Austin and one against the Warriors, the reigning 2022 champs, at San Antonio’s 65,000-seat Alamodome on January 13, as highlights. “It’s really exciting, because there’s going to be a lot of new people coming to watch,” Sochan said of that game at the Alamodome.

Southwest Notes: J. Jackson, Sochan, Silas, Garuba

Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. will miss the start of the upcoming season after offseason surgery for a stress fracture in his right foot, but an orthopedics doctor tells Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal that Jackson should be back to normal once he completes the rehab process.

Dr. Kenneth Jung, who specializes in foot and ankle fractures, notes that overuse is the most common cause of stress fractures. The broken bone normally takes six to eight weeks to fully heal, though Jung says it can sometimes be as long as three months. The Grizzlies expect Jackson to be sidelined for four to six months, which would have him ready to play sometime between November and January.

“Obviously once the bone heals, whether it takes two months or three months, then you’re starting to work back into basketball shape,” Jung explained. “That’s why they may have given themselves a little leeway, whether it’s four months or six months. He’s got to get built back up to be able to play an entire season. The other part is his body will de-condition somewhat while he’s letting the bone heal. You’re going to need some time to build that back up to get back onto the court.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Spurs rookie Jeremy Sochan has decided to bypass an opportunity to play for Poland in the EuroBasket tournament, according to Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops. Sochan, who didn’t play during Summer League after being placed in health and safety protocols, will focus on getting ready for his NBA debut. “After long discussions with the San Antonio Spurs, my agent and family, we decided that I should stay in San Antonio and continue preparing for my first season in the NBA, the most important and longest season of my career so far,” Sochan said in a statement released by the Polish Basketball Association.
  • Rockets coach Stephen Silas shouldn’t have any concerns about job security heading into his third NBA season, Kelly Iko of The Athletic writes in a mailbag column. Houston has posted the league’s worst record the past two years, but management still has faith in Silas to oversee the rebuilding process and was happy with the development of the team’s young players last season. Iko also notes that the front office allowed Silas free rein to build his coaching staff this summer.
  • This could be a crucial season for Rockets big man Usman Garuba, Iko adds in the same piece. After injuries limited him to 24 games in his rookie season, a sprained left ankle prevented him from playing in Summer League. Garuba was a first-round pick last year and Houston would like to use him as a small-ball center off the bench, but he will have plenty of competition for that role.

Spurs Notes: Sochan, Branham, Hall, Days

Most of the NBA’s top draft picks saw at least some playing time in Las Vegas, but not Spurs rookie Jeremy Sochan, whose Summer League plans were derailed by COVID-19, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. The ninth overall selection tested positive for the virus shortly after the draft and couldn’t practice with the Summer League squad. He agreed with the team’s decision to not have him try to play in any games.

“I didn’t have any injuries, but COVID still affects you, affects your lungs,” Sochan said.“I didn’t practice, and I was out of shape. … It made sense for me not to play here and I am always going to listen to the people in the organization.”

Sochan said he “stayed in bed and slept a lot” after contracting COVID, but he felt better after three days. He has spent most of his time in Las Vegas doing weight training and working with Summer League coach Mitch Johnson to learn the team’s playbook. He has also been a prominent cheerleader during the games and has been impressed by fellow first-round picks Malaki Branham and Blake Wesley.

“I think both have done great,” Sochan said. “There are some areas where they could have done better, but it’s a learning experience for everyone. (Two-way player) Dominick Barlow has also done well. I think it’s been a learning experience for them. They just want to learn and win.”

There’s more on the Spurs:

  • Branham turned in his best performance Saturday in San Antonio’s final Summer League game, Orsborn notes in a separate story. The 20th pick in the draft scored 23 points while hitting 8-of-15 shots from the floor and 5-of-8 from three-point range. “Him being decisive is going to be the key,” Johnson said. “He gets in between sometimes with, ‘Should I drive it? Should I shoot it?’ Or he’s thinking, ‘I missed the last one.’ When you are as versatile and as skilled as he is, you just need to play and be aggressive. … That’s going to be one of his strengths (three-point shooting), so he needs to try to score.”
  • Jordan Hall, an undrafted rookie out of St. Joseph’s, declared for the draft in 2021 but took the Spurs’ advice and returned to school for another year, Orsborn states in another piece. Hall, a combo forward who’s competing for an open two-way slot, reminds a lot of people of former Spur Kyle Anderson.
  • Johnson called it “bittersweet” to have Darius Days sign a two-way deal with the Heat after a strong performance with the Spurs, but he said that’s one of the purposes of Summer League, Orsborn tweets. “It’s all about these guys either finding jobs or trying to promote themselves within their current job,” Johnson said. “So that’s good on him.”

Spurs Sign Jeremy Sochan To Rookie Contract

The Spurs have signed forward Jeremy Sochan to a rookie scale contract, according to a team press release.

The lottery pick became the first top-10 selection for San Antonio since Tim Duncan went first overall in 1997. The Spurs used the No. 9 overall pick on Sochan, who played one season at Baylor and was named the Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year, averaging 9.2 PPG, 6.4 RPG and 1.3 SPG while appearing in 30 games.

Assuming the usual 120% rate above rookie scale, Sochan’s four-year deal is worth $23,046,751. He’ll make $5,063,520 during his rookie campaign.

Sochan won’t play in the Summer League after missing all of the team’s pre-Vegas practices due to COVID-19. He also suffered a hamstring injury, Paul Garcia of Project Spurs relays via Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). The injury occurred prior to the draft, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News tweets.

This leaves Dyson Daniels (Pelicans) and Walker Kessler (Jazz) as the only unsigned first-round selections.

Southwest Notes: Rockets, McGee, Spurs, Pelicans

When the Rockets became convinced on draft day that the Magic were going to use the first overall pick on Paolo Banchero, Houston made Orlando a trade offer for that No. 1 pick, sources tell Tim MacMahon and Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

As MacMahon and Windhorst explain, the Rockets had been expecting to end up with Banchero and had only recently been given Jabari Smith‘s medical information from his agent, Wallace Prather. Bill Duffy, Chet Holmgren‘s agent, told the Rockets he’d only give them Holmgren’s medicals if he got the sense that both Orlando and Oklahoma City were passing on his client.

According to ESPN’s duo, the Rockets were comfortable staying at No. 3 if Smith fell to them, but were worried about having to make a decision on Holmgren without getting much time to look over his medicals, which was why they inquired about moving up. After the Magic turned them down, the Thunder took Holmgren at No. 2, with Smith falling to Houston at No. 3 — all three teams ultimately left the draft happy, and while Banchero and Smith were surprised by where they ended up, neither was upset by the outcome.

“Jabari ended up in a place that fits who he is,” Prather said. “There was nothing but excitement on Jabari’s part about going to Houston. We love their young core. We love the city. We love the passion of their fan base.”

For what it’s worth, Banchero got the upper hand on Smith in their respective Summer League debuts on Thursday, as Tim Bontemps of ESPN writes. The Magic forward scored 17 points in Orlando’s win over Smith and the Rockets.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • A coaching assistant last season with the Rockets, Will Dunn has been promoted to an assistant coach position, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.
  • Appearing on ESPN’s NBA Today (video link), Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd confirmed that the plan is to insert newly-signed big man JaVale McGee into the starting five. McGee told ESPN when he agreed to a deal with Dallas last week that he expected to be the team’s starting center.
  • The Spurs ruled out Jeremy Sochan and Joe Wieskamp for the entire Las Vegas Summer League, per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link). Sochan missed all of the team’s pre-Vegas practices due to COVID-19, while Wieskamp, who remains a restricted free agent for San Antonio, sprained his ankle in a Tuesday practice.
  • Noting that the Pelicans‘ front office has shown a knack for identifying under-the-radar talent, Christian Clark of identifies three players on the team’s Summer League roster who could warrant a longer look from the club.

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.

Draft Notes: Magic, Sochan, Hardy, Daniels

While such comments typically produce eye rolls, president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman insists the Magic haven’t decided who they’ll take with the top overall pick, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press.

Weltman says “it’s still early in the process,” even though draft night is Thursday. “Dialogue is always ongoing,” Weltman said. “But, most importantly, we get to do what we want. That’s the real benefit of having the No. 1 pick.”

Orlando is expected to draft either Jabari Smith or Chet Holmgren.

We have more draft-related info:

  • Baylor’s Jeremy Sochan attended the Wizards’ pre-draft workout on Monday but didn’t participate due to an injury, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. Sochan sat out with a mild hamstring strain. Washington owns the No. 1o pick. Sochan is ranked No. 15 on ESPN’s Best Available list.
  • G League Ignite guard Jaden Hardy, ranked No. 22 by ESPN, worked out for the Sixers on Monday, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. St. Joseph’s forward Jordan Hall, Delaware guard Kevin Anderson, Alabama guard Keon Ellis, Baylor wing Kendall Brown and UNLV shooting guard Bryce Hamilton joined him, Pompey adds in another tweet. Philadelphia owns the No. 23 pick.
  • G League Ignite guard Dyson Daniels cancelled a visit with the Kings after receiving a green room invitation, Sean Cunningham of KTXL tweets. Daniels is ranked No. 6 by ESPN. Daniels is the second-ranked point guard behind Jaden Ivey, who revealed that he hasn’t had contact with the team holding the No. 4 pick.