Well, just after four regular-season games and two rather short but effective 4th quarter appearances, Josh Primo has been assigned to start training camp with the Austin Spurs and did not travel with the team ahead of their three-game road trip.
When the news broke, Spurs Twitter was yet again in a frenzy, and speaking from a personal standpoint here, I think it’s fair to say I’ve seen enough.
I get it. After an impressive pre-season with the San Antonio Spurs, lighting up the 4th quarter on a couple of occasions, showcasing his scoring ability, confidence getting to the bucket, and aggression on the offensive and defensive glass, you would think Coach Gregg Popovich would be more open to seeing what he can do against league level competition rather than the end of the bench, G league level guys he’s faced thus far.
While I do believe Josh Primo would thrive in the 2nd unit, here’s why immediately sending him to the G League is the better option at least for the short-term future.
Let’s start with this.
There aren’t any minutes available for him at the moment. If Primo were to come in as a rookie and take minutes away from guys currently ahead of him on the depth chart like Bryn Forbes or Tre Jones who don’t get a lot of minutes as it stands already, I feel it would cause a rift in the locker room and trade requests might be made.
While some fans actually may prefer that, the Spurs have been a well-respected organization in the league for some time now, and treating players like that who haven’t caused an issue isn’t the way to handle things.
Yes, Primo has shown flashes that he’s ready in the pre-season, but did you guys watch the Salt Lake City Summer League? Did you see what I saw? Yes, in the Vegas Summer League he did fairly well, he truly held his own but it was earlier in July where it was evident that he has a lot to work on. There were multiple occasions of Primo making poor decisions, constantly turning the ball over, failing to read defensive sets.
Now, I want to imagine Josh Primo going out there with the second in the regular season and we see that… Coach Pop would get ridiculed, the narrative or Spurs twitter would go from “WE WANT PRIMO” to “Maybe he’s not ready yet? in a heartbeat.
“But what about Devin Vassell? He was thrown into the mix seemingly right away and never spent time in the G League!” While this is true, Vassell played a key role on the team due to the lack of depth at his position and exceeded expectations seemingly right away. Vassell actually ended up starting a solid amount of games last year, but where was he to start this summer? Right alongside Primo in the Salt Lake Summer League logging in 30+ minutes getting his reps and showcasing that he’s ready for REAL rotation minutes which he definitely has so far.
Dating back to the Alamodome days when Popovich came back to town in 1996, believe it or not, the San Antonio Spurs have never been a team to ‘tank’ and they’ve held that pedigree since. While it’s evident the Spurs aren’t competing for a title run this season, the franchise is doing its best to look attractive to future free agents as well as stay competitive to push and develop the young core.
Could Josh Primo help that cause and return to San Antonio in a few months? Of course, I feel the Spurs will be sellers around the trade deadline and maybe, just maybe he could contribute and play a key role to close out the season.
Whether or not that happens, just know they are in a good position to control their own destiny and despite the record, Spurs fans have absolutely nothing to panic about, that is at least for the moment.