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Spurs waive Josh Primo, No. 12 pick in 2021 NBA draft

Primo averaged 5.8 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists in his rookie season with the Spurs after playing one season at Alabama.

Waiving Josh Primo raises multiple questions in San Antonio.

SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Spurs shook up the NBA on Friday, when they announced a decision to waive 2021 lottery pick Joshua Primo.

The move was especially surprising considering the Spurs had just exercised the third-year option on Primo’s contract October 10th, thus guaranteeing his $4.3 million for the 2023-24 season.

“It is our hope that, in the long run, this decision will serve the best interest of both the organization and Joshua,” Spurs Sports & Entertainment CEO RC Buford said in a statement released by the team.

Buford couldn’t be reached for comment.

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich also declined comment on Primo’s release during his pregame media availability prior to Friday’s matchup against the Chicago Bulls.

Popovich instead referred to the statement released by the team, which read: “the Spurs organization, including front office executive, coaching staff, and players will have no additional comments to share at this time.”

The No. 12 pick of the 2021 NBA Draft, Primo, 19, started 16 games as a rookie last season and averaged 5.9 points over 54 career outings. Primo played in each of San Antonio’s first four games, averaging 7.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 4.5 assists before sitting out of the team’s October 26 loss at Minnesota.

Later in the evening, he released a statement to ESPN that read as follows:

I know that you all are surprised by today’s announcement. I’ve been seeking help to deal with previous trauma I suffered and will now take this time to focus on mental health treatment more fully. I hope to be able to discuss these issues in the future so I can help others who have suffered in a similar way. I appreciate privacy at this time.

The Spurs had listed Primo as out for Friday’s game due to left glute soreness, before waiving him before tipoff against the Chicago Bulls.

With Primo still on the team, San Antonio entered Friday’s matchup with the youngest roster in the NBA (average age: 23.4 years old). Overall, they roster 14 players younger than age 26, a squad squarely in rebuilding mode after running off a streak of 22 consecutive postseason appearances from 1998-2019.

The Spurs stun the NBA by waiving Josh Primo, and the second-year player must map out a new course in his NBA journey.

The Spurs took something of a gamble when they drafted Primo at No. 12 overall, despite the former Alabama standout playing only one year of college basketball. Primo was the youngest player in the NBA last season, and doesn’t turn 20 until Christmas Eve.

Michael C. Wright is a senior writer for You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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