Blake Wesley

Spurs Exercise 2024/25 Options On Sochan, Branham, Wesley

The Spurs have exercised their third-year team options on the rookie scale contracts of Jeremy Sochan, Malaki Branham and Blake Wesley, the team announced today.

While the moves won’t impact the players this season, the trio now have their 2024/25 salaries guaranteed. Sochan will make $5,570,040 next season, Branham will carry a $3,217,920 cap hit, and Wesley will earn $2,624,280.

The Spurs will have until the end of October 2024 to decide whether or not they want to pick up the fourth-year options of Sochan, Branham and Wesley.

The No. 9 overall pick of the 2022 draft, Sochan earned a spot on the All-Rookie Second Team last season after averaging 11.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 56 games, including 53 starts (26.0 minutes per contest). He posted a .453/.246/.698 shooting line.

Head coach Gregg Popovich previously stated that the 6’9″ Sochan would be the de facto point guard of the Spurs’ super-sized starting lineup to open ’23/24. However, on Friday, he cast some uncertainty on whether that five-man group would remain the long-term starters, as Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News relays (Twitter links).

Branham, a 6’5″ guard who was the No. 20 overall pick in 2022, averaged 10.2 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.9 assists on .440/.302/.829 shooting in 66 games last season (23.5 minutes).

Wesley, meanwhile, was the No. 25 pick last year. He averaged 5.0 points, 2.7 assists and 2.2 rebounds on .321/.381/.591 shooting in 37 NBA games in ’22/23 (18.1 minutes). The 6’5″ guard also spent some time in the G League last season.

The full list of ’24/25 rookie scale team option decisions can be found right here.

Southwest Notes: Adams, McCollum, Eason, Spurs

Grizzlies center Steven Adams has been out since January 22 after spraining the PCL in his right knee, but he appears to be nearing a return. Head coach Taylor Jenkins said Adams has begun 5-on-5 work in practices and the team is hopeful Adams could play by the end of the upcoming road trip, though that isn’t set in stone (Twitter link via Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian).

The road trip Jenkins is referring to starts Wednesday in Houston and ends next Tuesday in Los Angeles, so Adams could be back within around a week. Remarkably, despite missing the past 13 games, Adams still leads the NBA in total offensive rebounds with 214 (Ivica Zubac is second with 196).

The 29-year-old is averaging a career-high 11.5 rebounds (5.1 offensive) in 27.0 minutes per game through 42 games in 2022/23. The Grizzlies have gone 5-8 without Adams over the past month-plus.

Here’s more from the Southwest:

  • Pelicans guard CJ McCollum has been bothered by a right thumb injury, which he described as a ligament issue, and plans to undergo an MRI “soon,” per Christian Clark of (Twitter links). “It’s not ideal,” he said. “I’m playing. I have to be better, and I will be better. I understand what’s at stake for us. What’s at stake for our seeding. And how these next few games are going to define our season.” As McCollum noted, the 30-31 Pelicans’ spot in the postseason is quite tenuous — they’re currently the No. 10 seed, but three teams are right on their heels for the final spot in the play-in tournament.
  • Tari Eason‘s offensive numbers are solid, if unspectacular for a rookie — he’s averaging 8.7 points on .442/.347/.750 shooting splits in 19.6 minutes per game. However, the 21-year-old forward has made his presence felt on the other end of the court for the Rockets, as Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle writes. “I see a lot of people talking about some of the best defenders in the league,” Eason said as part of a larger quote. “I want to be one of those dudes they talk about. I feel like I’m the best rookie defender in this class.” Eason ranks sixth among rookies with 5.6 rebounds per night, per Feigen, and second in steals and deflections. His 2.8% steal percentage ranks fifth in the entire NBA, according to
  • The Spurs have had to use a couple of 19-year-old rookies — Malaki Branham and Blake Wesley — at point guard lately due to a mysterious foot injury to starter Tre Jones. According to Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News, the Spurs aren’t quite sure what’s going on with Jones’ foot. “It’s a strange injury,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “He’s one of the toughest young men on the planet. There’s nothing on the (MRI) film or anything like that. He just can’t go.”

Southwest Notes: Brooks, Mavs, Wesley, Bassey

The Grizzlies blew out the Bucks by 41 points on Thursday night, holding stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton to 22 total points on a combined 6-of-25 shooting. After guarding Middleton for much of the night, Grizzlies wing Dillon Brooks was asked if he ought to be in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year and replied that he “100%” should be, according to Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal (Twitter link).

“I don’t get the steals or the big-time blocks, but I’m going to give fits to whoever I got that night,” Brooks said.

Defensive Player of the Year voting typically favors big men, so if a Grizzlies player receives serious consideration for the award, it might end up being Jaren Jackson Jr., who is averaging 3.3 blocks per game. Still, Jackson has missed some time and it’s Brooks who is tied for third in the league in’s defensive win shares stat at 3.8.

Let’s round up a few more Southwest notes…

  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has grand ambitions for a new arena in Dallas if the state of Texas legalizes gambling and sports betting, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (subscription required). “My goal, and we’d partner with Las Vegas Sands, is when we build a new arena it’ll be in the middle of a resort and casino,” Cuban told Townsend. “That’s the mission.”
  • Spurs rookie guard Blake Wesley will be available on Friday for the Austin Spurs’ game in Mexico City, tweets Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. A knee injury has sidelined Wesley since October 30 and limited him to just two NBA appearances so far this season, but it sounds like he has been cleared to return.
  • Waived by Philadelphia during the preseason, Charles Bassey made his first career start on Wednesday for the Spurs and admitted after the game that he was “a little bit” nervous. As Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News (subscription required) details, Bassey got into early foul trouble and mishandled a couple passes from Doug McDermott in the pick-and-roll. “He just flat-out dropped a few of them; he told me that,” McDermott said. “I told him, ‘I am going to continue to throw it to you, because you are setting great screens. You are either going to have a shot or you are going to have a dunk. So don’t overthink it.'”

Southwest Notes: Wesley, Green, Bane, Rockets

Spurs rookie guard Blake Wesley was assigned to the G League Austin Spurs on Tuesday for practice, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express News tweets. He’s expected to return to the NBA team on Wednesday. Wesley could soon be back in action after being sidelined since late October with an MCL sprain. At that time, he was expected to be out six-to-eight weeks, so it appears he’s progressing as scheduled. 

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Josh Green will miss the Mavericks‘ game against the Cavaliers on Wednesday, the team’s PR department tweets. Green hasn’t played since Friday due to a right elbow sprain. He did some dribbling drills and an individual shooting workout after practice on Tuesday, Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News tweets.
  • The Grizzlies went 1-5 without Desmond Bane at one point but have now won six straight with the shooting guard sidelined by a toe injury. They’ve achieved that due to Ja Morant‘s playmaking, Dillon Brooks getting more minutes with the second unit and Jaren Jackson Jr. becoming a dominant force, according to Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
  • The Rockets will have significant cap space after this season. How should they use it? The Athletic’s Kelly Iko and Danny Leroux explore that topic.

Injury Notes: Lakers, Conley, R. Williams, MPJ, Wesley, T. Davis

The Lakers should have their two superstars back on Friday night in Philadelphia. LeBron James missed Wednesday’s game in Toronto to rest his sore right ankle, but he’ll be available on Friday, sources tell Dave McMenamin of ESPN (Twitter link). Anthony Davis, who left Tuesday’s game in Cleveland with a non-COVID illness and remained out on Wednesday, is listed as probable to play on Friday, McMenamin adds.

Meanwhile, in Utah, Jazz guard Mike Conley has been cleared to return, as expected, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link). Sidelined since November 19 due to a knee injury, Conley said today that he had already been planning to return tonight, but felt more urgency to get back on the court with Collin Sexton now on the shelf (Twitter link via Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune).

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

  • Speaking today to reporters, Celtics big man Robert Williams declined to offer specifics when asked about when he might make his season debut, repeatedly stating that he’s “day to day.” However, Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe and Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston (Twitter links) believe Williams may be trending toward a Saturday return, noting that head coach Joe Muzzalla couldn’t hold back a smile when asked about the possibility of the center playing in Golden State.
  • There’s still no timeline for the return of Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., who has missed eight straight games with a left heel injury, head coach Michael Malone said on Thursday. According to Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter link), a TNT report suggested Porter could be back within a week, but Malone said no target date has been conveyed to him.
  • Spurs rookie Blake Wesley, making his way back from an MCL tear, will likely have a stint with the Austin Spurs in the G League before he returns to the NBA team, head coach Gregg Popovich said on Thursday (Twitter link via Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News). Popovich added that Wesley is getting close.
  • Kings guard Terence Davis had hoped to return on Wednesday after missing just one game due to a lower back issue, but he aggravated the injury in practice on Tuesday and is now at risk of missing additional time, writes Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. “It’s frustrating because all I want to do is play basketball,” Davis said.

Spurs Rumors: Poeltl, Richardson, McDermott, 15th Man, Wesley

Center Jakob Poeltl is the player that the Spurs have gotten the most trade inquiries about, according to LJ Ellis of SpursTalk, who repeats what he reported last month, writing that the team continues to seek two lightly protected first-round picks in any deal involving the big man.

The Raptors and Warriors are among the teams that have shown the most interest in Poeltl, sources tell Ellis. Toronto has thus far been unwilling to offer a package headlined by more than one moderately protected first-round pick, Ellis writes.

As for a potential fit with Golden State, Ellis hears that the Spurs aren’t especially interested in James Wiseman or Jonathan Kuminga as the centerpiece of a hypothetical Poeltl trade. According to Ellis, San Antonio likes Moses Moody the most out of the Warriors’ three young prospects, but would want more than just Moody for Poeltl. In other words, Golden State would likely have to be willing to part with future draft assets to have a chance to land the veteran center.

The Spurs’ other trade candidates include Josh Richardson and Doug McDermott. Ellis says the club still wants a first-round pick in any deal involving Richardson, while McDermott will likely remain in San Antonio through the trade deadline unless a team offers a first-rounder for him.

Here’s more on the Spurs:

  • Having recently signed Alize Johnson to a non-guaranteed contract to provide frontcourt depth following injuries to Poeltl and Jeremy Sochan, the Spurs will likely cut Johnson and sign a perimeter player once their regulars get healthy, sources tell Ellis. Bringing back Jordan Hall is one possibility, and San Antonio has also been doing its homework on former Jazz guard Jared Butler. One longer-shot candidate for that 15th roster spot, according to Ellis, is Isaiah Thomas, who could be a target if the front office feels as if the scoring burden on youngsters like Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell is getting too heavy.
  • Richardson is expected to return to action on Thursday vs. Houston after missing six games due to a right ankle sprain, tweets Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. McDermott, out for two games with a sprained right ankle of his own, will also likely be back on Thursday, Orsborn adds (via Twitter).
  • Spurs rookie Blake Wesley, who is recovering from a torn MCL, still has no official timeline for a return, but the club is hoping he’ll be back later this month, according to Orsborn (Twitter link).

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.”