Joshua Primo

Spurs Notes: Popovich, Offseason, Primo, Wieskamp

A report earlier this month indicated that Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has seemed revitalized by the influx of young talent in San Antonio, and his comments to reporters this week back up that report. Although this year’s version of the Spurs won’t be a title contender like some of Popovich’s past teams, he said he’s “thrilled with this group,” according to Raul Dominguez of The Associated Press.

“They are basically young, energetic, have got a lot of speed,” Popovich said. “There is no need to pace yourself. Nobody is going to play 39 minutes a game, don’t have to worry about stats or individual honors or anything like that. These guys are just going to have a ball playing.”

The days of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker are long gone, but even in recent years, Popovich was able to rely on veterans like LaMarcus Aldridge, DeMar DeRozan, and Rudy Gay. This season, the Spurs are short on go-to vets, but the veteran coach sounds perfectly fine with that.

“I have no idea who I’m going to give it to or what play we’re going to run,” Popovich said, per Dominguez. “That’s something we’re going to figure out as we move along, and to me, that’s exciting as hell.”

Here’s more from out of San Antonio:

  • The Spurs’ offseason moves – including signing Doug McDermott and Bryn Forbes in free agency – suggest they plan to shoot more three-pointers this season, says John Hollinger of The Athletic. San Antonio ranked dead last in the NBA last season in three-point makes (9.9) and attempts (28.4) per game.
  • Rookie guard Joshua Primo was “ecstatic” to land with the Spurs on draft night, according to agent Todd Ramasar, who tells Madalyn Mendoza of The San Antonio Express-News that his client had long admired the franchise. “When you think about them being the gold standard in the NBA from an organization standpoint, I think all that ties in to just how unreal it was to hear his name called at 12,” Ramasar said.
  • Although the Spurs essentially admitted defeat on one of their 2019 first-round picks this week when they cut Luka Samanic, the team’s hit rate in the draft remains high, writes Mike Finger of The San Antonio Express-News. As Finger observes, of San Antonio’s seven first-rounders since 2016, five (Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Lonnie Walker, Keldon Johnson, and Devin Vassell) should be, at the very least, solid NBA contributors, while a sixth (Primo) is off to a promising start this fall.
  • Second-round pick Joe Wieskamp is prepared to spend a good chunk of his rookie season in the G League with the Austin Spurs and plans to make the most of it, tweets Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. “I just view this as a developing year. It’s all about learning, all about growing,” Wieskamp said. “Just to have that experience of playing in Austin will be great. You get more opportunities to truly be yourself and work on things in a game environment.”

Spurs Notes: Primo, Aminu, McDermott, Collins

The Spurs are preparing first-round pick Joshua Primo for the possibility that he may spend part of his rookie season in the G League, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. At age 18, the former Alabama guard was among the youngest players taken in this year’s draft and he may need time in Austin to get ready for the NBA.

“I’m open to anything that is going to get me extra reps and get me better,” he said. “I know I am young, and any way I can get better, I am up to it. But I haven’t heard anything yet.”

Primo has several teammates who spent time in the G League early in their careers, and they have been selling him on the benefits.

“All the guys have told me the G League is there to help,” Primo said. “If I am there, I am going to use it to the best of my ability.”

There’s more from San Antonio:

  • Al-Farouq Aminu, one of the few veterans in the Spurs’ camp, is on his seventh team in 11 years after being traded from Chicago as part of the DeMar DeRozan deal, Orsborn adds in the same piece. The 31-year-old is trying to bounce back from knee problems that have limited him to 41 combined games over the past two seasons. “It is basketball … We understand the business,” Aminu said. “I remember a vet told me, ‘Control what you can control.’ All I can do is put out max effort.”
  • Growing up, Doug McDermott thought he would be a good fit with the Spurs because of their approach to the game, per Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express News. At age 29 and with seven years in the NBA, McDermott got to San Antonio over the summer in a sign-and-trade. “Doug can fit in anywhere,” teammate Bryn Forbes said. “When you can shoot the ball and score the ball, it’s not hard to fit in. You can just kind of mold and adapt to a lot of different situations.”
  • The Spurs’ medical staff expects center Zach Collins to return “after Christmas,” coach Gregg Popovich told reporters (Twitter link from Orsborn). The free agent addition has played a combined 11 games over the past two seasons and has undergone multiple foot surgeries.

And-Ones: Ntilikina, Draft Prospects, Nets, Pistons, Primo

Free agent guard Frank Ntilikina is receiving interest from Italian club Virtus Bologna as a potential replacement for Nico Mannion, according to BasketNews.com. Mannion will miss the beginning of the season as he recovers from an intestinal infection.

“We are looking on the market for an element to be included, a point guard who can also remain in the future,” head coach Sergio Scariolo said as part of a larger quote, according to EuroHoops. Because of that, we focus on young people who can give something important, rather than a veteran addition.”

Ntilikina fits the bill for what Virtus Bologna is looking for. The defensive-minded 23-year-old was drafted eighth overall in the 2017 NBA Draft, spending the past four years with New York.

Across those four seasons with the Knicks, Ntilikina has averaged 5.5 points, two rebounds and 0.8 steals in 19.5 minutes per game. He’s struggled with his shooting at the NBA level, owning a 36.6% mark from the field and 32.8% mark from deep in his career.

Here are some other odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype takes a look at the top prospects for the 2022 NBA draft, crafting an early aggregate mock draft for the event based on the rankings of various draft experts. Among the projected high-lottery picks is Duke freshman Paolo Banchero, whom Kalbrosky pegs as most likely to be drafted first overall.
  • Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com (Insider link) examines the recent NetsPistons trade featuring veteran center DeAndre Jordan, grading both sides and giving his opinion on which team won the trade. Brooklyn, which received an A grade from Pelton, dealt Jordan, four second-round picks and $5.78MM in cash in exchange for Jahlil Okafor and Sekou Doumbouya. The Pistons, who got a C-plus, then reached a buyout agreement with Jordan, allowing him to sign with the Lakers.
  • Spurs rookie Joshua Primo has signed a multi-year shoe and endorsement deal with Nike, according to Jeff Garcia of KENS 5. Primo, 18, was selected No. 12 overall in this year’s draft after spending one season at Alabama.

Spurs Sign First-Round Pick Josh Primo

The Spurs have signed guard and lottery pick Joshua Primo, according to a team press release.

Primo, the 12th overall pick, played one season at Alabama. He was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team, averaging 8.1 PPG and 3.4 RPG while starting in 19 of 30 games. The 18-year-old is currently averaging 12.0 PPG, 2.3 APG and 2.0 RPG in 26.0 MPG over three summer league games.

Assuming he receives the usual 120% above rookie scale, Primo will make $3.95MM in his first season and could earn $18.42MM over the next four seasons.

Primo was one of just two first-round picks who had yet to sign their rookie scale contracts — Usman Garuba is the lone unsigned first-rounder now, and his deal should be done soon too.

Draft Rumors: Spurs, Pacers, Knicks, Nets, Duarte, Warriors, More

Reports in recent weeks identified the Nos. 9 and 10 picks in the draft as two of the most available lottery picks. New Orleans agreed on Monday to move the 10th pick to Memphis, while the Kings‘ pick at No. 9 continues to be viewed as available, writes Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

In addition to Sacramento’s pick, the Spurs‘ (No. 12) and Pacers‘ (No. 13) selections are among the lottery choices that could be had, according to Fischer, who suggests that both teams are viewed as candidates to move back into the mid-teens or early 20s if the price is right.

As for which teams picking later in the first round might be looking to move up, Fischer says the Knicks (Nos. 19 and 21), Rockets (Nos. 23 and 24), and Nets (No. 27) fit that bill. Brooklyn has been willing to discuss shooting guard Landry Shamet in trade talks, Fischer adds.

Here are a few more draft-related rumors and notes:

  • Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report is the latest reporter to indicate that Chris Duarte is unlikely to fall past the No. 15 pick on Thursday. The Lakers are among the teams that have shown interest in Duarte and have looked into possibly moving up in the draft, Wasserman notes.
  • James Bouknight, Duarte, Trey Murphy, and Jonathan Kuminga are among the prospects the Warriors are eyeing, says Wasserman. While Kuminga isn’t necessarily NBA-ready, there’s support for him within Golden State’s front office from those who consider his upside too significant to pass up, Wasserman adds.
  • The Warriors turned down a Knicks offer of the Nos. 19 and 21 picks for the No. 14 selection, per Wasserman.
  • Some teams outside the top 10 believe Michigan forward Franz Wagner has assurances he’ll be selected in the top 10, according to Wasserman. The Kings at No. 9 are considered a strong candidate for Wagner if they keep their pick.
  • Both Wasserman and Matt Babcock of BasketballNews.com continue to suggest the Raptors aren’t a lock to draft Jalen Suggs at No. 4, since the team has done “extensive homework” on Scottie Barnes.
  • Alabama’s Joshua Primo and Illinois’ Ayo Dosunmu are two of the prospects Wasserman has heard linked to the Nuggets at No. 26.
  • Alperen Sengun has a good chance of being a lottery pick, according to Babcock, who says the Turkish big man could be picked as high as No. 8 by the Magic.

Pacific Notes: Ayton, K. Jones, Lakers, Warriors

Deandre Ayton, fresh off of his first NBA Finals appearance with the Suns, is eligible for a five-year, $168MM max contract that would kick in at the start of the 2022/23 season, and Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic takes a look at what could be next for the big man.

Ayton’s career lows in PPG and APG were a result more of the context of adding Chris Paul and reorganizing the offense, rather than any regression on Ayton’s end, Rankin writes. In fact, Ayton’s growth as a team-first player willing to do whatever it takes for the success of the Suns adds even more appeal for the club as it decides if it will offer him a max deal.

If sacrificing is leading the wins and where we are today, I’ll sacrifice everything, you know what I’m saying,” Ayton said. “Everything (Paul’s) told me has led up to here, so why stop now?

We have more news from the Pacific Division:

Northwest Notes: Jazz, Grimes, OKC, Moody, Wolves, Nuggets

The Jazz are hosting a pre-draft workout on Thursday that will includes Houston’s Quentin Grimes, Providence’s David Duke, and San Diego State’s Matt Mitchell, sources tell Tony Jones of The Athletic.

Jones categorizes it as an important session for the Jazz, who like Grimes as a potential target at No. 30 and want to get a closer look at Mitchell, who has worked out for more than 10 teams and is considered a draft riser.

Sources tell Jones that other prospects the Jazz are eyeing as possibilities at No. 30 include Nah’Shon Hyland, Ayo Dosunmu, Miles McBride, Herb Jones, Joel Ayayi from Gonzaga, Joshua Primo, and Jared Butler.

  • Arkansas wing Moses Moody visited the Thunder in Oklahoma City earlier this week, as Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee tweets. Moody is the 16th-ranked prospect on ESPN’s big board, so he could play be in play for OKC at No. 16 or 18 next Thursday.
  • Now that Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore have formally been approved as minority stakeholders in the Timberwolves, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic examines the challenges facing A-Rod and Lore, who will assume majority control of the franchise by 2023. As Krawczynski observes, there are similarities between the Wolves’ current situation and the one that Marc Lasry, Wes Edens and Jamie Dinan inherited in 2014 when they bought the Bucks, though it’s probably unrealistic to expect the next seven years in Minnesota to play out like the last seven in Milwaukee.
  • The Nuggets put forth a “full, all-hands-on-deck organizational effort” to ensure longtime assistant Wes Unseld Jr. got a head coaching job, Denver’s president of basketball operations Tim Connelly told Fred Katz of The Athletic. Connelly said he informed the Wizards that Unseld “is one of the brightest minds I’ve ever been around.”
  • South Carolina wing A.J. Lawson worked out today for the Nuggets, according to Adam Zagoria of Forbes (Twitter link).

Northwest Notes: Lillard, Blazers, Hernangomez, Nuggets

While it doesn’t look at this point like the Trail Blazers will seriously explore Damian Lillard trades this offseason, that doesn’t mean they’re not getting calls about their All-NBA point guard. Front office sources tell Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer that the Heat, Kings, Knicks, Rockets, and Sixers have been the most aggressive suitors for Lillard as of late.

With no Lillard trade request imminent, the Blazers are more likely to pursue upgrades around the star guard, though O’Connor notes that the team’s trade assets are somewhat limited. Portland doesn’t have any draft picks this year and rival teams aren’t particularly high on young players like Anfernee Simons and Nassir Little, according to O’Connor. The club’s best bet for a deal that reshapes the roster and increases its ceiling might involve CJ McCollum and Ben Simmons, O’Connor adds.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

Hawks Notes: Prunty, J. McMillan, Workouts, Collins

Joe Prunty and Jamelle McMillan are expected to become part of Nate McMillan‘s revamped coaching staff with the Hawks, league sources tell Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report (Twitter link).

Prunty, who began working as an NBA assistant in 1996, has spent time with a total of seven different teams and briefly served as the interim head coach of the Bucks during the 2017/18 season. Prunty, who last coached in the NBA in 2018/19 as a Suns assistant, was the head coach of the Team USA squad that played in the AmeriCup qualifiers earlier this year. He and Nate McMillan worked together in Portland from 2008-10.

Jamelle McMillan, who is Nate’s son, has spent most of his career with the Pelicans, including several years as an assistant under Alvin Gentry. He joined the Suns for a season in 2018/19 before rejoining the Pelicans, but was let go in 2020 when Stan Van Gundy was hired by New Orleans.

Here’s more on the Hawks:

Kings Notes: Haliburton, Draft Workouts, Wagner

Kings guard Tyrese Haliburton is enjoying his experience with the U.S. Select Team, which is giving him a chance to test his skills against some of the NBA’s best players, writes Jason Jones of The Athletic. Haliburton had previous experience in the international format as part of the USA under-19 National Team while at Iowa State.

Haliburton has fully recovered from the hyperextended left knee that brought an early end to his first NBA season. Although he played just 58 games, he was an All-Rookie First Team selection and finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting. He has been working out in Sacramento for the past month and now gets to see how his expanded game fares against elite competition.

“For me to get out and use that stuff against other guys and see it work against them in live action, it helps a lot,” Haliburton said. “And just kind of seeing what other guys are working on at the same time, how other guys are improving. Just taking bits and pieces of that, putting that into my training and things like that.”

There’s more from Sacramento: