The San Antonio Spurs are only ten games into the 2022-23 campaign but this season has already been a roller coaster ride. On the court, the Spurs have notched a couple of momentous upsets on the road while witnessing Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell blossom into possible cornerstone pieces to the franchise’s future. On the other hand, San Antonio also suffered their worst home loss in franchise history.
Off the court, the typically monotonous and straight-laced Spurs organization has found themselves dealing with one of the franchise’s most serious scandals in its 50-year history. After the team waived Joshua Primo, it came to light the 19-year-old has been accused of exposing himself to multiple women. One of the women, a former sports psychologist employed by the club, is suing Primo and the Spurs.
In this delicate time, what’s going on behind the scenes? The Spurs have been even more tight-lipped than usual since the Primo story broke but there are a few tidbits of information worth noting.
-Regarding the lawsuit the Spurs are facing, the most interesting piece of intel I’ve received is regarding general manager Brian Wright. According to a source close to the Spurs, Wright is not in danger of being fired.
When asked specifically whether Wright’s job with the Spurs is safe, the source didn’t hesitate to answer directly: “Absolutely. Absolutely. Everything was handled with great care and concern.”
Wright, who has been the Spurs general manager since 2019, was prominently mentioned in the press conference presided over by the accuser’s lawyer, Tony Buzbee. Following the allegations made by Buzbee at the press conference, there were individuals in the league who wondered if Wright would end up losing his job due to the Primo situation.
Said an agent with multiple clients in the NBA: “If what we heard is true, [Wright] and everyone else involved should be fired.”
For what it’s worth, the Spurs have gone on record to disagree with the “fact, details and timeline” presented at the press conference.
-Around the time that the Primo story broke, the Spurs alerted other teams that all trade proposals were off the table. As of Sunday night, that remains the case.
Why are the Spurs not currently engaged in any trade talk? The most logical answer is that the franchise is busy dealing with the Primo-related fallout.
However, it’s also possible that San Antonio’s better than expected start to the season has the Spurs reevaluating what they want to accomplish in the trade market. Heading into the campaign, the Spurs were projected to be one of the worst teams in the NBA. But instead of tanking to the bottom of the league, the team has been surprisingly competitive.
If Johnson and Vassell keep excelling and the Spurs continue to show the togetherness that has resulted in the team leading the league in assists per game, the franchise may opt to keep their squad together.
-Prior to ceasing all trade talk, the Spurs were clear in their demands. To trade Jakob Poeltl, they wanted two minimally-protected first round picks. For Josh Richardson, San Antonio was requesting one first round pick. The Spurs also wanted positive value back if they were to trade Doug McDermott.
According to a source, the Los Angeles Lakers have targeted Richardson and McDermott in a trade that would involve Russell Westbrook. However, talks haven’t gained traction because the Lakers are only willing to relinquish a pair of second round picks in return for both players.
Richardson (41.9%) and McDermott (43.1%) have been shooting extremely well from three-point range this season for the Spurs. Considering the Lakers are last in the league in three-point shooting at 28.4%, Los Angeles may eventually decide to increase their offer for San Antonio’s sharpshooting duo.
If the Spurs do land Westbrook in a trade, the source says the Spurs would buy out his contract and allow him to become a free agent.
-One player the Spurs have shown no interest in trading is Tre Jones. With Primo out of the equation, Jones is now the team’s point guard of today and tomorrow. He’s currently averaging 12.0 points and 5.7 assists in 29.5 minutes per game.
Spurs insiders unanimously say that Jones is a natural leader and an effective communicator who has played an instrumental role in Johnson and Vassell flourishing this season. Johnson is averaging 23.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists, while Vassell is averaging 21.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists.
-A scout for a Western Conference team believes that the Spurs will ultimately decide to keep all of their players and hold off on any trades until the summer.
“With that [Primo] mess, the Spurs are going to try to stay competitive,” he told me. “There’s no way they risk looking even more dysfunctional than they already look over there.”