As the calendar flips to August, next week is back-to-school week for a lot of young players and NBA hopefuls at the 2021 NBA Summer League.
In 2019, the Spurs sent 18 players to the NBA Summer League, headlined by new rookies Keldon Johnson, Luka Samanic, and Quinndary Weatherspoon. After getting scratched from the calendar last year, the exhibition is back. We now have confirmation that the Spurs’ 2021 draft class will be in attendance.
“It’s a quick turnaround, so [Josh Primo and Joe Wieskamp] may miss their first Summer League practice coming up,” Spurs’ general manager Brian Wright told the media after the draft, “but we anticipate they’ll be with us for the Utah Summer League and in Vegas.”
With the new kids in town locked in, the important thing is to figure out who will join them on San Antonio’s 2021 Summer League roster. Let’s take a look at some players who are definitely playing, as well as some likely candidates for the team. The Salt Lake City Summer League is open to rookies, sophomores, and “select free agents and athletes competing to make NBA and G League regular season rosters,” per the event’s website.
Locks: Devin Vassell, Tre Jones, Justin Turner
In addition to Primo and Wieskamp, the San Antonio Spurs have announced that both of their selections in the 2020 NBA Draft, Vassell (11th overall) and Jones (41st overall), will play in the 2021 Summer League.
Breaking the trend of rookies playing with the G League’s Austin Spurs, Vassell spent all of last season with the San Antonio team. In 62 games (seven starts) he averaged five points, and nearly three rebounds while shooting 40 percent from the floor, 34 percent from deep. His minutes dipped in April while accumulating three “did not play” designations. From April going into May, Vassel started five consecutive games.
Sources: Bowling Green's Justin Turner has agreed to play Summer League for the Spurs.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 30, 2021
Unlike his classmate, Jones did go into the G League bubble in Orlando when it opened last February. In a handful of games, he established himself as a leader, excelling at the point guard position with 18 points, nearly 10 assists, and five rebounds per game. He was called up midway through Austin’s season to rejoin San Antonio but didn’t see much action. Jones recorded just two points and one assist per game, averaging seven minutes of action in 37 appearances.
Turner has signed with the Spurs for the Summer League as an undrafted free agent out of Bowling Green State University. A 6’4” guard, turner averaged 19.3 points and four assists while shooting 41 percent from the floor for the Falcons last season. A four-year starter, Turner took advantage of the extra year of eligibility granted due to the pandemic, showing another season of consistent production.
Possible: Kylor Kelly, Cam Reynolds, Kaleb Johnson, Jordan Green, Anthony Mathis, Nate Renfro, Galen Robinson Jr., Jonathan Kasibabu, London Perrantes, Dedric Lawson, Daulton Hommes
If this list looks familiar, it should. All of these players were Austin Spurs over the last two seasons, which has been the franchise’s approach in the past. Renfro, Kasibabu, Kelly, and Lawson would provide inside support, which is dearly needed with the Spurs.
Lawson spent 2021-22 playing overseas in Korea and currently has a contract in Turkey. He was a strong part of Austin’s 2019-2020 roster after a prolific career at the University of Kansas. Renfro was a defensive standout in February’s bubble and played larger than his 6’8” frame both offensively and defensively. Kassibabu and Kelly are strong considerations.
The Spurs will face the Timberwolves, Bulls, Hornets, and Nets in the Las Vegas Summer League next month: https://t.co/XhOBtIadXT
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— Project Spurs (@projectspurs) July 28, 2021
Perrantes and Hommes would provide deep-range support behind Vassell, Primo, and Wieskamp, while Reynolds, Johnson, and Mathis are all-around playmakers. Robinson would be a strong point guard behind Jones to handle distribution duties, with Jones getting the start. Green is a strong candidate to be a “culture” addition, fully taking over the mentor role once held by Jeff Ledbetter.
San Antonio Spurs 2021 Summer League Schedule
As in years past, San Antonio will once again compete in the Salt Lake City preliminary group of the Summer League inside Vivint Arena. They’ll play three games within a group against the Memphis Grizzlies and a pair of Utah Jazz teams in preparation for the MGM Resorts NBA Summer League August 8-17 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Salt Lake City Spurs Schedule 2021
- Tuesday, August 3 @ 8 p.m. CST vs Jazz White (NBA TV)
- Wednesday, August 4 @ 6 p.m. CST vs Jazz Blue (NBA TV)
- Friday, August 6 @ 6 p.m. CST vs Grizzlies (ESPNU)
Las Vegas Spurs Schedule 2021
- Monday, August 9 @ 6 p.m. CST @ Minnesota Timberwolves (ESPNU)
- Tuesday, August 10 @ 7 p.m. CST vs Chicago Bulls (NBA TV)
- Thursday, August 12 @ 2 p.m. CST @ Charlotte Hornets (ESPNU)
- Sunday, August 15 @ 5 p.m. CST vs Brooklyn Nets (NBA TV)
The two teams with the best record in Las Vegas will play in the Summer League Championship Game on Tuesday, August 17 on ESPN. In the case of a tie, which is likely, the tiebreak criteria break criteria, in order, first goes to the winner of the head-to-head from the preliminary round, point differential, or ultimately a random drawing by “coin flip.” If more than two teams are tied, the criteria teams are decided by just point differential, followed next by a “coin flip” if necessary.
Who Will Coach the Spurs at the 2021 NBA Summer League?
Becky Hammon is the most likely person to once again serve as head coach with the Spurs in the Summer League. She’s coached the squad a number of times, including coaching San Antonio to the Summer League title in 2015.
With Austin head coach Matt Nielsen currently serving as Australia’s assistant head coach at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, he won’t be available to sit on Hammon’s bench. Billy Donovan III has been a guest coach with the team in the past, but he now serves as video coordinator with the Chicago Bulls where his father is the head coach. With former Austin head coach Blake Ahearn now on staff with the Memphis Grizzlies, and Edneisha Curry now with the Portland Trailblazers, only one member of the 2019 Summer League staff is currently available – Tomislav Zubčić.
When looking at candidates for the job, it’s hard to think of which way Hammon and San Antonio may lean in putting together the staff. One addition that would be interesting would be Ledbetter. With all of the young shooters on this team, his experience in the organization would be a welcome addition. At 33 years old, if it is in his interest at this time, this could be a great opportunity to lay the foundation for a career in coaching.