How do the San Antonio Spurs move forward after the Josh Primo bombshell?
By Ethan Farina
When the news broke Friday night that the San Antonio Spurs were releasing their 2021 first-round draft pick, Josh Primo, Spurs fans were understandably shocked. In the days since more on the circumstances of the split between the Spurs and Primo has been revealed. But many Spurs fans, myself included, are still left with questions.
The Spurs' initial statement was light on detail and left plenty of room for speculation. "It is our hope that, in the long run, this decision will serve the best interest of both the organization and Joshua" said RC Buford. Not exactly enlightening and a strangely vague contrast to Primo's more detailed statement that highlighted his desire to "focus on my mental health treatment more fully."
How do the Spurs move on from shocking news?
The release of a player the team had been so incredibly high on became more understandable after Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news that the decision had stemmed from multiple allegations of Primo exposing himself to women.
Days after the initial news broke, the picture is a little clearer, but there is still so much uncertainty around the situation. There's still a lot we don't know and, since this is the Spurs we're talking about, it could be a while until all the details come out. But it's clear this story is far from over.
So, what happens now? Well, there are a few sides to this. From a basketball perspective, the Spurs have to grapple with the abrupt loss of one of their most exciting young players, a guy many viewed as a crucial part of the team's future. But to be clear - the implications of Primo's departure on the on-court product are far less concerning and far less important than what this might mean at an organizational level.
One of the most important details that has come out is that Tony Buzbee, the same lawyer who represented multiple women against Deshaun Watson, had been hired by a woman who had worked for Spurs and had accused Primo of exposing himself to her.
The hiring of a reputable lawyer with experience in similar cases combined with the blanket and pointed lack of elaboration by the Spurs is concerning. It's fair to assume that this is going to evolve into a lawsuit, against whom and exactly for exactly what remains unclear, at least for now. A lot of this could be cleared up when the former Spurs employee making the allegations against Primo speaks up this week.
What the Spurs knew, when they knew it, and how they responded are critically important. And given that everyone in the organization - from RC to Pop to the players - has been so careful to avoid saying anything that could be misinterpreted, it's clear they are treating this situation with the gravity that it deserves.
I desperately want to believe that the Spurs handled everything correctly, did right by all the people involved, and cut ties with Primo immediately after they found out about the allegations. But we have to acknowledge the very real possibility that they could be implicated for some sort of wrongdoing by the former employee referenced in the tweets above.
This has been one of the darkest and most confusing stretches of days in Spurs' history, so how does the team move forward from here? As hard as it may be to ignore the specter of the situation hovering over the organization, the Spurs can get through this by continuing to focus on the game and letting whatever legal implications there may be run their course.
Basketball is a welcome distraction from the off-court proceedings at the moment. And the fact that the Spurs are wildly outperforming preseason expectations makes it even better. They're off to their best start since 2018 and are on the second-hottest start to a season in franchise history. Not bad for a team that was expected to be near the bottom of the Western Conference.
Still, the departure of Primo and the recent injury to Blake Wesley are going to force the Spurs to get creative in how they respond. It could mean heavier minutes for Malaki Branham and Romeo Langford, two players that have shown flashes of potential in the early goings of the season.
Langford, a player that Gregg Popovich referred to as maybe the Spurs' "best on-ball defender", and Branham, one of San Antonio's first-round picks from 2022, both look like key cogs in the well-oiled Spurs machine this season. Letting them loose while Wesley recovers should only help the Spurs, both now and down the road. And it'll be entertaining as hell to boot.
So, how do the San Antonio Spurs move forward from all of this? In the only way they can - by focusing on controlling the controllable. They've done their part in cutting ties with Primo and it's hard to know exactly what else is coming their way until the former consulting psychologist makes their statement. Until then, it's best to focus on basketball. For now, it's all we really can do.