Spurs Notes: K. Johnson, Primo, Wesley, Branham, Engelland

The Spurs are locking up one of the keys to their rebuilding project by agreeing to a four-year, $80MM extension with Keldon Johnson, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. Even though Johnson is only 22, he’s among the most experienced players on the roster following the trade of Dejounte Murray to Atlanta.

“I kind of have been in the system the longest,” Johnson said after the Murray deal was announced. “So just lead these guys, tell them the ins and outs. We are all going to have learning moments in the upcoming years, but just stay even-keeled throughout it.”

After earning an Olympic gold medal last summer, Johnson turned in his best NBA season so far, posting career highs with 17.1 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game and shooting 39.8% from three-point range. With Murray and Lonnie Walker both gone, Johnson will have to become an on-court leader for a team with the league’s second-youngest roster.

“Definitely a big opportunity,” he said. “We lost some big pieces, but it’s time to step up. You got to keep evolving, keep getting better, keep grinding. I am ready.”

There’s more on the Spurs:

  • San Antonio is counting on a pair of 19-year-old guards to play major roles this season, per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. The Spurs were hoping to get a long look at 2021 lottery pick Joshua Primo during Summer League, but he was limited to two games after testing positive for COVID-19. Blake Wesley, the 25th overall pick this season, had issues with shooting and turnovers in Las Vegas, but ranked 14th in scoring coming into today’s games. “Blake Wesley and Josh Primo are the modern-day guards,” Spurs Summer League coach Mitch Johnson said. “They are not classic throwback point guards. They are not classic throwback shooting guards in terms of how we used to define those things years ago. They are attacking guards, so that’s going to be a thing we will continue to develop, evolve, grow, teach, partner with them on.”
  • Summer League has been a learning process for another young guard, Malaki Branham, who was taken with the 20th pick last month, Orsborn adds. “I would rate myself grade-wise probably a C, C-plus,” Branham said. “I feel I need to be more aggressive. I’m looking for my shot but also creating for others. Just learning every game and learning every play as well.”
  • Assistant coach Chip Engelland, who has been with the team since 2005, will leave after his current contract expires, tweets Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.
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