The San Antonio Spurs’ release of guard Joshua Primo — the No. 12 pick in the 2021 NBA draft — stemmed from multiple alleged instances of him exposing himself to women, sources told ESPN on Saturday.
The decision to release Primo on Friday night was sudden and shocking, and it spoke to the severity of the issues surrounding the promising 19-year old player.
The team had recently picked up the $4.3 million 2023-24 option on Primo’s contract, signifying a level of confidence in his future with the franchise.
Many NBA teams remain intrigued with Primo’s talent and potential, but are searching for a more complete understanding of the situation as they weigh the possibility of placing a claim to acquire Primo before he clears waivers and becomes a free agent Monday afternoon, sources said.
To claim Primo, a team would need the available cap space or a traded player exception significant enough to absorb his $4.1 million salary this year. It would also owe him the $4.3 million on his contract for 2023-2024.
In a statement to ESPN on Friday night, Primo acknowledged a need to continue “mental health treatment more fully.”
“I know that you all are surprised by today’s announcement,” Primo said in the statement. “I’ve been seeking help to deal with previous trauma I suffered and will now take this time to focus on my 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.”
Primo averaged 5.9 points in 54 career games for the Spurs, including 16 starts as a rookie.
He played in the Spurs’ first four games this season, averaging 7.0 points off the bench. Primo did not play in Wednesday’s road loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves and was listed as out for Friday’s home game against the Chicago Bulls before being waived about an hour before tipoff.
“It is our hope that, in the long run, this decision will serve the best interest of both the organization and Joshua,” Spurs CEO RC Buford said in a statement.