Devin Vassell will be sidelined for the foreseeable future. The third-year wing, who has made a massive leap this season, will undergo knee surgery on January 11th to address an issue that has plagued him all year and there’s no timetable for his return, the Spurs announced.
Vassell, 22, had missed eight games this season with knee issues, so the news is not shocking. There’s no reason for the Spurs, currently sitting at 14th in the Western Conference standings with a 12-26 record to risk further injury to a player who has shown the required talent to become a centerpiece for the future. The allegations of tanking will be hard to ignore, but it’s clear that the injury is real enough to require surgery, so there’s no need to second-guess San Antonio’s intentions here. The Spurs were not going far this season with or without Vassell so putting the long-term health of a recent lottery pick over getting a few extra wins makes perfect sense.
Vassell’s absence should shake up the rotation, as someone will have to take over the starting spot left vacant. Romeo Langford filled in against the Knicks on Wednesday when Vassell was out and seems like a good pick to keep the spot, but Josh Richardson, Malaki Branham and potentially even rookie Blake Wesley could get more opportunities before the coaching staff settles on someone to take over most of Vassell’s minutes.
Vassell was averaging 19.4 points, four rebounds and 3.6 assists while shooting 44 percent from the floor and 40 percent from beyond the arc in his breakout season.