What We Know About Joshua Primo And the Spurs Decision to Waive Him

In one of the most stunning turn of events in franchise history, the San Antonio Spurs have abruptly waived Joshua Primo. It’s about 12 hours later and it’s still not clear why the Spurs decided to release Primo, the franchise’s lottery pick in the 2021 NBA Draft and someone who the team was planning to build around.

Here’s what we know so far:

1) When the Spurs waived Primo, the only explanation in the press release was a quote from RC Buford, the franchise’s former general manager and current CEO.

“It is our hope that, in the long run, this decision will serve the best interest of both the organization and Joshua.” 

Perhaps even more noteworthy was the line in the press release that the Spurs organization (specifically the players, coaches and executives) will offer no further comment about Primo. 

2) Primo released a statement through ESPN within a couple hours of being waived. 

3) About two weeks ago, the Spurs picked up a team option on Primo worth more than $4 million. Unless he is claimed on waivers, the Spurs will owe him approximately $8.4 million over the next two years.

4) As recently as earlier this week, I was hearing talk behind the scenes regarding how high the Spurs were on Primo and his vast potential. Playing as the team’s backup point guard, he was doing well on the court and showing promise as a 19-year-old multiskilled initiator. He was averaging 23.3 minutes per game and was usually the first player off the bench. While his regular season numbers don’t stand out, he looked great in the preseason.

5) Over the summer, he was the player the Spurs trotted out to be in front of the camera. For example, when they were unveiling a new sponsor for their jersey, it was Primo who was called to be the representative of the players. He also has his face on billboards around San Antonio. 

It’s clear that the Spurs had big plans for Primo heading into his sophomore campaign. 

6) Primo missed the game on Wednesday due to a bruised glute. Him missing that game wasn’t a major surprise because he fell hard to the ground during Monday night’s game and was in obvious pain. He was able to keep playing on Monday but he was clearly hampered.

Before he was waived, he was listed as out versus the Chicago Bulls on Friday night due to the same glute injury.

7)  While he didn’t play on Wednesday, he was at the game and everything appeared to be normal. He was cheering on his teammates and was all smiles on the bench.

8) Head coach Gregg Popovich’s pregame interview with the media prior to the Bulls game was delayed about 45 minutes. It was during that delay that the Spurs announced that they had waived Primo. When Pop was asked about Primo, he said he had no comment beyond the quote by Buford in the press release.

9) When I’ve reached out to sources, the only info I’ve received is that the decision wasn’t made due to basketball reasons. Other reporters who cover the Spurs are hearing the same.

10) When the Spurs shocked pundits by picking Primo 12th overall last year, they pointed to his high character as being a leading reason why they selected him. Every scout I’ve talked to has regards Primo as an extremely high character kid who is mature beyond his years. He is routinely praised for his leadership ability and the hard work he puts in every day. 

Honestly, I’ve never heard anything negative said about Primo or his character.

11) Primo and his girlfriend have disappeared off of social media. They also had a joint account that they’ve recently set to private. Primo and his girlfriend have been dating since at least the NBA draft.

12) At the arena on Friday night, there were no Primo jerseys for sale. Previously, his jerseys were prominently displayed. Also, Primo’s jerseys were removed from the team’s online store as soon as he was waived.

13) The Spurs social media didn’t mention the Primo news and it appears as if any recent references to him have been scrubbed. 

It’s difficult to say what this all means. I’ve been told by a couple people who would know that it’d be wise not to speculate or try to draw any conclusions — so I won’t. I’ll just say that I hope that this situation ends positively for both Joshua Primo and the Spurs.