The Spurs Shockingly Waived 2021 First-Round Pick Joshua Primo

The San Antonio Spurs came into the 2022-23 season fully embracing their youth movement after dealing Dejounte Murray to Atlanta for a bevy of first round picks, and in turn they handed the reins to a young core of former first-round picks — with an eye on a likely high lottery finish.

While Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell were the headliners of that young group entering the season, it also figured to be a big year for the 12th overall pick from the 2021 NBA Draft, Joshua Primo, as there were considerable minutes to be had in the backcourt. Primo appeared in the first four games of the season for the Spurs and struggled, averaging 7.0 points and 4.5 assists in just over 23 minutes per game on 34.6 percent shooting from the field, before sitting out Wednesday’s loss to the Wolves with what was listed as left glute soreness.

Then, on Friday night an hour before the Spurs played host to the Bulls, the team sent out a shocking release that they were waiving Primo, citing it as something they hope will “serve the best interest” of both Primo and the organization.

It was an unbelievable announcement, even considering Primo’s struggles amid an otherwise strong start for the Spurs, as the Spurs had picked up Primo’s third-year option on October 10, and one can’t help but wonder if something took place off the court that has yet to be made public that was the catalyst for this move. For now, the Spurs and Gregg Popovich aren’t saying anything more than the very vague release, and we’ll have to wait to learn what led to Primo’s release.

UPDATE: Primo released a statement later Friday night saying he’s seeking help for past personal trauma and would be focusing on his mental health treatment for the time being after being waived.