Devin Vassell

Spurs’ Vassell, Sochan To Miss Remainder Of Season

Spurs guard Devin Vassell and forward Jeremy Sochan will miss the remainder of the season, according to a team press release.

Vassell underwent an MRI Monday morning in San Antonio. The exam revealed a stress reaction to the third metatarsal head in his right foot.

Sochan has been diagnosed with a left ankle impingement and he’ll undergo arthroscopic surgery. That determination was made after the Spurs medical team consulted with outside experts.

Vassell signed a five-year rookie scale extension with $135MM in guaranteed money last October. That extension kicks in next season. He finished this season with averages of 19.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.1 steals in 33.1 minutes per game. He appeared in 68 games, including 62 starts.

Sochan completes his second NBA season with averages of 11.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 29.6 minutes per game. The No. 9 pick of the 2022 draft appeared in 74 games, including 73 starts.

Spurs Notes: Wembanyama, Vassell, K. Johnson, Wesley, Paris

As Victor Wembanyama‘s rookie season nears its end, his teammates are still learning how to unlock all the elements to his game, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. Wembanyama turned in another remarkable performance Sunday night, posting 33 points, 15 rebounds, seven blocks and seven assists while leading a late rally in an overtime win over Brooklyn. He put the Spurs ahead to stay on an alley-oop dunk with 38.5 seconds left to play and then preserved the victory by blocking a shot off the backboard.

Coach Gregg Popovich singled out guard Devin Vassell, who had eight assists, two of which resulted in Wembanyama slams. Because Vassell frequently initiates the offense, developing chemistry with Wembanyama will be vital for the team’s future.

“Every one of them is always aware of where he might be on the court and trying to figure out where he’s got to go, and be more efficient in getting it to him here or there,” Popovich said. “It’s an experience where they’ve got to be in those situations. But Devin’s going to have the ball a lot for us, so him understanding how to play with Victor is really important.”

There’s more on the Spurs:

  • San Antonio also got a huge performance from Keldon Johnson, who was back at full strength after dealing with a stomach virus earlier in the week, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. Johnson came off the bench to score 24 points in 34 minutes and contributed several clutch baskets. “He’s a big energy guy,” Popovich said. “He knocks down some threes here and there, takes big shots. He might not be shooting 40% on the year, but he takes shots that are important because of time and score and that kind of thing. And he’s an aggressive young man. He puts some meat on people.”
  • After Friday’s game against Denver, Popovich talked about his efforts to develop Blake Wesley into a defensive stopper, Orsborn adds in a separate story. The second-year guard has embraced the role and enjoys challenges like matching up with Jamal Murray. “The more you do it, the more consistent you will be,” Wesley said. “Me getting stops and then running out in transition, that’s my game. When I do that, I play better, I play free. It’s all about being aggressive.”
  • The NBA hasn’t selected the teams for its international games next season, but it’s expected that the Spurs and Pacers will play in Paris, according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN. Wembanyama is thrilled about the prospect of returning home. “I’m looking forward to it very much,” he said. “Obviously it’s going to be probably the game or the games that are going to be very important for me because of course it’s me coming back from where I come from, especially might be in my city or around the city. So it’s going to be very special. Also, it is going to allow me to see maybe my family in the middle of the season, which doesn’t happen often. So it’s great.”

Spurs Notes: Wembanyama, Vassell, Barlow, Graham, Wesley

Ticket holders for the Spurs’ game against the Warriors on Monday got some good news on Sunday. Victor Wembanyama is not on the injury report, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News tweets.

Wembanyama has missed the last two games due to a gimpy ankle. Second-leading scorer Devin Vassell, who is dealing with a left hip contusion, is listed as probable.

We have more on the Spurs:

  • Dominick Barlow, who had his two-way contract upgraded to a standard deal earlier this month, delivered a big performance at Golden State on Saturday with the star rookie sidelined, supplying 19 points, eight rebounds and four assists in 30 minutes. “Props to him,” Jeremy Sochan told Jeff McDonald of the Express-News. “He just got an NBA contract so we’re all very proud of him. He helped us a lot, just scoring, playing good defense and just in general playing well.”
  • Devonte’ Graham got a rare opportunity to play meaningful minutes on Saturday and contributed eight points in 12 minutes to the victory, McDonald notes. “Devonte’ hasn’t played much,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “He came in and gave us a real boost.” Graham’s $12.65MM contract for next season is partially guaranteed for $2.85MM, so he appears likely to be traded or waived this summer.
  • The Spurs used one of the picks they acquired from Boston in the Derrick White trade to draft Blake Wesley. Wesley, who turns 21 on Saturday, has received steady playing time off the bench and San Antonio still has high hopes for him, according to Mike Finger of the Express-News. “He’s definitely got the explosiveness of a (Russell) Westbrook,” big man Zach Collins said.

Spurs Notes: Wembanyama, Barlow, Murray, Young

Victor Wembanyama started the season at power forward but he’s mainly manned the center position in recent weeks. The first pick of the draft says he’s eager to find out where he best fits, ESPN’s Andrew Lopez writes.

“I’m glad we can experience stuff and figure out my role. I’m a rookie,” he said. “It’s also me figuring out how I want to play now but also for the future how we want to build. We’re still trying some stuff.”

The Spurs also want him to develop chemistry with wing Devin Vassell.

“Those are two of the people we want to have the ball a lot since they’re our skilled players in a sense,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “Seeing those two guys meld together is important for us. They’re doing pretty well.”

We have more on the Spurs:

  • Wembanyama is planning to participate in the Skills Challenge during All-Star weekend in Indianapolis next month, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.
  • With Wembanyama sitting out against Chicago over the weekend, Dominick Barlow got a chance to start on Saturday. He didn’t dazzle, Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News notes, as he contributed five points, six rebounds and a block in 22 minutes. It was still a milestone for an undrafted two-way player. He’s been backing up the super rookie since Zach Collins was sidelined by an ankle injury.
  • The Spurs have been linked to Dejounte Murray, but Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer argues that they should pursue the Hawks’ other starting guard, Trae Young. Wembanyama and Young could form a dynamic duo that teams wouldn’t want to switch screens against. Young is also one of the league’s best at creating easy shots for bigs, which would allow Wembanyama to score off of rolls and cuts on a regular basis, O’Connor notes.

Spurs Notes: Wembanyama, Vassell, Johnson, Diakite

Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama has grown increasingly frustrated playing under a minutes restriction, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (subscription required). Since injuring his right ankle in mid-December, Wembanyama has sat out three games and has been limited to about 24 minutes per night in the five games he has played.

As Orsborn explains, the team imposed the limit due to concerns that Wembanyama may be at risk of further injury if he plays too much too soon. After being pulled with just over three minutes left in Tuesday’s loss to Memphis, Wembanyama lobbied to return to the game and surpass his usual limit.

“I just talk to the coach and I say, ‘Yeah, I played 25 minutes already. What is two more?'” Wembanyama said after the game, per Orsborn. “Looking back, I understand their point of view, but at the moment it is hard and frustrating.”

Asked on Tuesday if Wembanyama’s minutes restriction will be lifted anytime soon, Popovich suggested that the big man’s ankle will have to be examined again before the team makes a decision.

“In a certain amount of time, we will take more pictures and that will determine whether the minutes thing changes or not,” Popovich said. “It is the same (number of minutes) every night. I think we were a minute off tonight. Twenty-four minutes is the deal.”

Here’s more on the Spurs:

  • Popovich is pleased to see Devin Vassell and Wembanyama continuing to build chemistry on the offensive end of the court, Orsborn writes for The Express-News. The development of their two-man game was cited as one reason for Keldon Johnson‘s move to the bench. “They’re starting to read each other,” Popovich said. “They’re figuring out that he’s 7-3, you can throw it up in the air and when he rolls you got to get a pocket pass in there. (Wembanyama) makes good decisions and can either score or kick it to someone else because we really haven’t had that to a great degree in the past, so seeing those two guys meld together is important for us. They’re doing pretty well.”
  • Johnson’s points and free throw attempts per game have both increased since his move to the bench, and the Spurs wing acknowledged that he’s playing more aggressively in his new role, per Orsborn. “I guess you can say that,” Johnson said. “… I try to bring a lot more energy and try to assert myself a little bit more coming in out the bench and just boost the team any way I can.”
  • After signing a two-way contract with the Spurs, forward/center Mamadi Diakite referred to the franchise as “the best” at player development and expressed excitement about playing for Popovich, according to Orsborn. “I was starstruck because I have watched him since the beginning, before I started playing basketball,” Diakite said. “So, getting to meet him and greet him and play for him is a great accomplishment so far for me. When we first met, I said to him, I had been watching him since I was young. And he answered, ‘You are still young and you have a lot more to go.'”
  • Diakite’s two-way deal covers only the rest of the current season, not 2024/25, Hoops Rumors has confirmed, so he’ll be eligible for restricted free agency in the summer.
  • The injuries continue to pile up for the Spurs, who were already missing big men Zach Collins and Charles Bassey and now have starting guard Malaki Branham dealing with an ankle injury, according to Orsborn. With Branham’s status for Thursday’s game and beyond still unclear, Popovich downplayed San Antonio’s health problems. “We miss Malaki and we miss Zach, but everybody’s got somebody that’s out, so that’s not a big deal,” he said. “But for us it is because they’re such a young team and they need all their bodies. But I’m pleased with their effort. They just have to keep the attitude up.”

Southwest Notes: K. Johnson, Smart, Mavs, J. Green

A longtime starter for the Spurs, Keldon Johnson has come off the bench in each of the past three games, and head coach Gregg Popovich expects that to continue for the foreseeable future, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News (subscription required).

As McDonald explains, the thinking is that Johnson can breathe some life into a second unit that hasn’t been as effective as hoped this season. The move will also give starters Devin Vassell and Victor Wembanyama an opportunity to establish more chemistry as they continue working on their two-man game.

Although he had started 230 of his previous 233 games prior to last Saturday, Johnson has no problem with the role change, indicating that he doesn’t need to be sold on it if Popovich believes it’s in the team’s best interest.

“If that’s what we need and that’s what we’re going to try, then that’s what we’re going to do,” Johnson said. “I don’t have an ego about it.”

Johnson’s performances in his first three games off the bench have been up and down, but he’s certainly not getting any fewer offensive opportunities in the new role. After averaging 13.5 field goal attempts in 33.0 minutes per game in his 26 starts, he has launched 15.7 attempts in 28.0 MPG this past week.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Upon returning this week from a left foot sprain that had sidelined him since November 14, Marcus Smart rejoined the Grizzlies‘ starting lineup and has made an immediate impact, notes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. In Smart’s first two games back – a win over New Orleans and loss to Denver – the Grizzlies outscored their opponents by two points in his 52 minutes of action and were outscored by 38 in the 49 minutes he sat.
  • Explaining the decision to sign Brandon Williams to a two-way contract, Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd said the team wanted to make sure it still had plenty of point guard depth with Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving both banged up (Twitter link via Eddie Sefko of While Kidd indicated that Williams would have a chance to play on Thursday with the two star guards out, he was a DNP-CD, as Jaden Hardy (31 minutes) and Seth Curry (30 minutes) played increased roles.
  • After getting a vote of confidence from head coach Ime Udoka earlier in the week, slumping Rockets guard Jalen Green showed signs of progress on Wednesday, scoring 23 points in 26 minutes and making 6-of-12 three-pointers. “He was aggressive, hunting his shots … and getting downhill more aggressively and making the right reads,” Udoka said, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscription required). “With their big (Jusuf Nurkic) back, he got some easy ones early on and it snowballed from there. He got aggressive looking for the three. That’s what we want him to do on a nightly basis.”

Southwest Notes: Zion, Spurs, Popovich, Rose

Throughout his NBA career, Zion Williamson has been criticized for his weight, his effort level and especially for his inability to stay on the court. Pelicans teammate Jose Alvarado tells Christian Clark of that Williamson is aware of the criticism and is trying to find ways to channel it into something positive.

“He learned,” Alvarado said. “He’s young still. We got his back. So it don’t matter about all that other stuff. But he hears it. He’s human. We (are) all human. We all in the generation of going on our phones and stuff is going to pop up. He’s responding. That’s a 23-year-old responding to the whole world telling him something he don’t want to hear. Like I said, it’s whatever. We’ve got his back. We tell him. We told him what he needed to hear. All the other stuff, I feel like was pretty unnecessary.”

Williamson became an easy target after New Orleans was embarrassed by the Lakers during the in-season tournament semifinals. Clark notes that TNT’s Shaquille O’Neal said Williamson “does not run hard,” and ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith called him “fat.” Alvarado said the team has rallied behind Williamson to help him deal with the outside barbs.

“He’s human,” Alvarado said. “He heard all that noise about that game in L.A. One thing about it: We can get on him. But the whole world, they trying to push him to be great. Obviously, we appreciate that. But f–k all that negative towards him. He’s a human being.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • There was a mixture of relief and celebration as the Spurs ended their nightmarish 18-game losing streak by beating the Lakers Friday night, per Andrew Lopez of ESPN. Devin Vassell poured in a career-high 36 points in San Antonio’s first victory since November 2. “A hundred percent it didn’t feel like a normal win,” Vassell said. “You see people jumping around on the sideline and everything. … I’m trying to stay composed. But at the end of the day, it’s special. This is a special group.”
  • Coach Gregg Popovich doesn’t expect the Spurs to pursue a major trade to turn the season around, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. “Our focus is not immediate other than individual development and team concepts,” Popovich said. “But if there’s a trade that would make sense both now and for long-term, of course, we look at it. (General manager) Brian Wright and his guys are probably doing that already.”
  • Hamstring soreness forced Grizzlies guard Derrick Rose to leave Friday’s game, the team tweeted. Rose, who has helped the team weather Ja Morant‘s suspension, managed to play only about eight minutes.

Spurs Notes: Wembanyama, Collins, Sochan, Johnson

The Spurs have abandoned two experiments related to the development of No. 1 pick Victor Wembanyama, writes Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. San Antonio began the season by starting Zach Collins at center and Wembanyama at power forward so the 18-year-old wouldn’t have to battle with other NBA big men. However, Collins’ unexpected struggles with outside shooting — he’s connecting at just 28.4% from three-point range after hitting 37.4% last season — caused coach Gregg Popovich to move him to the bench after 20 games.

“I think if we were shooting it a little bit better, I think it would have worked better,” Collins said. “The negative right now is spacing, so that’s a big reason why we went back to one big out there starting the game instead of two.”

Popovich has also stopped using Jeremy Sochan as his primary point guard, Fischer adds. Sochan is a versatile forward with a gift for passing, but he had never played point guard before Popovich decided to try him at the position in training camp. Fischer notes that instead of having a designated ball-handler, any of the Spurs’ starters are free to lead the break after grabbing a defensive rebound.

Even though the Spurs are losing at unexpected levels, dropping their 18th straight game last night, Wembanyama’s performance is providing hope for the future. He had 30 points, 13 rebounds, three steals and six blocks against the Lakers on Wednesday, and Fischer believes he’ll be a perennial candidate for Defensive Player of the Year.

There’s more from San Antonio:

  • The Spurs may consider moving Keldon Johnson before the trade deadline (video link), Marc J. Spears of Andscape said on the latest Hoop Collective podcast (hat tip to RealGM). San Antonio has a surplus of wing players on its roster, and sources tell Spears that Johnson isn’t viewed as a good fit with the rest of the starting lineup.
  • Wembanyama’s first meeting with LeBron James didn’t happen Wednesday because the Lakers‘ star sat out the second game of a back-to-back with calf soreness, but the French rookie was excited about matching up with Anthony Davis, per Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. “He’s somebody I’ve studied a little bit in the past and a great player of course,” Wembanyama said, “and I’m glad I’m going to be able to play so much more times against him.”
  • While Wembanyama has been outstanding, the Spurs don’t have the foundation they were hoping to build by having lottery picks in the previous three drafts, McDonald adds. Joshua Primo, their 2021 pick, is already off the roster. Sochan (2022) has been struggling, possibly because of the attempted position change, and Devin Vassell (2020) has cooled off in December after a strong start to the season.

Spurs Notes: Losing Streak, Bassey, Vassell, Champagnie

The Spurs are searching for answers after dropping their 14th straight game Friday night in New Orleans, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. A season that began with great optimism after winning the lottery and adding Victor Wembanyama has hit a major rough spot as San Antonio has fallen into the Western Conference basement with a 3-16 record.

“Nobody is going to feel sorry for us,” Keldon Johnson said. “We understand if we want to win, we have to go out there and do things it takes to win, make the right plays. The whole team understands that. We’ve just got to put it together.”

The Wembanyama era got off to a terrific start as the Spurs ended October and began November with a pair of victories at Phoenix that raised their record to 3-2. They haven’t won since then amid issues with fouling too much and not protecting the ball, which are common for young teams.

“I don’t know any ‘no turnover drills’ or any ‘no foul’ drills,” coach Gregg Popovich said after Friday’s loss. “It’s judgment. It’s decision-making. They’ve just got to figure it out.”

There’s more on the Spurs:

  • San Antonio got a lift Friday from Charles Bassey, who saw extra playing time with Wembanyama sitting out the second night of a back-to-back, McDonald notes in a separate story. Although the third-year center put up eight points, 11 rebounds and three blocks in 19 minutes, he understands those opportunities aren’t going to be frequent. “I know my role,” Bassey said. “Just go out there and bring energy to the team. I feel like I’m doing a good job of that.”
  • Devin Vassell, the Spurs’ leading scorer, has been coming off the bench in the past four games, but Popovich indicated that will change soon, McDonald adds. Vassell has been on a minutes restriction since a groin issue forced him to miss three games. “It’s a minutes thing,” Popovich said. “If he starts, he doesn’t get enough minutes.”
  • Julian Champagnie got off to a poor shooting start this season, missing 12 of his first 16 three-point attempts, but McDonald points out that he didn’t have to be concerned about his NBA future after signing a four-year contract this summer that includes a $3MM guarantee for 2023/24. Champagnie was 3-of-6 from long distance against New Orleans and has hit 11-of-20 in his last three games. “I just kept shooting, practicing, staying aggressive, getting in the gym and taking shots I know I can make,” Champagnie said. “Staying out of my own head has been the biggest thing for me.”

Spurs Notes: Wembanyama, Vassell, Sochan

Spurs No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama missed his first regular season game on Friday night against the Pelicans. The 7’4″ big man has been dealing with right hip tightness and considers himself “day-to-day,” writes Andrew Lopez of ESPN.

Friday was the second of back-to-back games for San Antonio, which lost to the Hawks on Thursday night. Wembanyama was questionable for that contest, but wound up playing, Lopez notes.

In 18 games (30.0 minutes) in 2023/24, the 19-year-old has put up very impressive counting stats of 19.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.3 steals and a league-leading 2.7 blocks per night, though like many rookies he has struggled at times with turnovers (3.5) and scoring efficiency (.437/.271/.829 shooting line).

Here are a few more notes on the Spurs, who have lost 13 straight games entering Friday’s contest:

  • Devin Vassell hasn’t gotten much recognition this season because San Antonio is just 3-15 and ranks last in the Western Conference. But the fourth-year wing is shooting career highs of 58.0% on twos and 41.9% on threes, and the spacing and attention he draws are essential to the team’s offense, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic, who says Vassell “increasingly looks like the perfect complementary piece to Wembanyama.”
  • Vassell has missed five games this season due to an adductor injury, causing the Spurs to place him on a minutes restriction and bring him off the bench of late. He was a reserve again on Friday night, but head coach Gregg Popovich said Vassell will return to the starting lineup in the near future, tweets Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News.
  • Transitioning to point guard after playing power forward as a rookie last season has been a bumpy adjustment for Jeremy Sochan, but he had his best game of the season on Thursday, McDonald writes for The Express-News (subscriber link). The 20-year-old had a career-high 33 points (on 12-of-14 shooting) while also contributing eight rebounds, six assists and a steal. “It’s a process,” Sochan said. “But as every day goes on, it’s getting easier. I’ve just going to keep going. And if I have the trust of my coaches and my teammates, that’s the most important thing.”