PLAYA VISTA, CA — If the focus is to continue bringing in high-character individuals into the organization, then the Los Angeles Clippers are putting a lot of faith in the hands of 19-year old Josh Primo.
Primo, who turns 20 years old on Christmas Eve, signed a two-way contract with the Clippers a few days before training camp. This comes after the guard out of Alabama University spent the last year away from the NBA court due to legal troubles.
On October 28, 2022, the San Antonio Spurs shockingly waived Josh Primo, the player they selected with the 12th overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. Shortly thereafter, allegations against the Spurs guard were made by a therapist within the Spurs organization.
A lawsuit filed against Primo and the San Antonio Spurs back in November 2022 stated that Dr. Hillary Cauthen, “lost her dream job because the Spurs organization ignored her repeated reports of indecent exposure.”
“Primo repeatedly exposed his genitals (nine times in total) to Dr. Cauthen during their individual pricate sessions, despite her numerous complaint about Primo's improper sexual conduct to the organization's leadership,” the lawsuit said. It also stated that there were two additional reports of indecent exposure in Minnesota and Nevada.
Primo later came out with a statement denying the allegations, saying that any such indecent exposure were incidental.
“I know that you all are surprised by today' announcement,” Primo said in the statement via ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. “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.”
After being among the last to take his Media Day portraits and sign hundreds of basketballs, Primo spoke to a small contingent of media members late into the event — none of which were women — for the first time about the allegations.
“The allegations that came up against me were extremely serious and something that I didn't take lightly at all,” Primo said. “I've been in therapy for the past year and I've been working with a couple different therapists and just preparing myself for another opportunity like this and making sure that allegations like that never come up again.
“I've been in therapy the past year, been working on myself, doing some soul-searching for sure. This last year was hard. It was really hard, these allegation were not something I take lightly for one second and I had to deal with it in a very serious manner. But since then I've been working and I'll continue to work.”
When given the opportunity to address the allegations himself and add anything to the statement from a year ago, Primo declined.
“I think at this point in time I’m not really here to speak about any details. I think at this point in time I’m extremely happy to be a Clipper. I’m grateful for this opportunity and I think at this point it’s about the work that I’ve done from then until now and what I’ll continue to do going forward.”
Prior to the signing, the organization says they did their due diligence on the former lottery pick. The signing of Primo came just two days after President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank's annual pre-season availability, so he did not speak to members of the media about the signing.
Andrew Greif of the LA Times, however, reported that the Clippers asked female members of their organization their thoughts on potentially bringing Josh Primo in and if they would be comfortable with it.
“We took many steps to make sure that we could feel very confident that we will be able to create a safe and comfortable workplace,” Frank said, per the LA Times.
On Friday, September 29th, just hours before the Clippers signed Primo, the NBA announced a four-game suspension after concluding its own investigation.
“The NBA announced today that Joshua Primo has been suspended four games without pay for conduct detrimental to the league,” the statement said. “The league conducted its own investigation and consulted with relevant experts. Following that process, the league found that Primo engaged in inappropriate and offensive behavior by exposing himself to women. Primo maintains that his conduct was not intentional, and the league did not find evidence that he engaged in any sexual or other misconduct apart from these brief exposures. Nevertheless, this behavior does not conform to league standards and warrants discipline.”
Throughout his brief availability, Primo repeatedly referred to the allegations against him as ‘serious' and ‘alarming.' He also kept coming back to therapy as the key to bettering himself and getting through the last year.
Primo signed the two-way contract with the Clippers just a few days before the start of training camp, but their interest in the guard started months earlier.
“It was a couple months ago. I’m not too sure. But I’ve been talking to them for a while now to where I feel like we both have come to an understanding and again, the conversations are ongoing each and every day.
“I think the one thing I will say is the Clippers have been very up front with me. They've been very transparent, just like I've been with them, and the consistency throughout this whole year in terms of talking with them. They feel comfortable with me, I feel comfortable with them at this point in time, but time is only going to tell.”
Josh Primo also made regular appearances at the Rico Hines-organized UCLA open runs this summer, playing alongside now-Clippers teammates Russell Westbrook, Norman Powell, and KJ Martin. Also routinely in attendance was mental health performance coach, Laura Wilde, who has been with the Clippers since 2018.
“There's a certain type of gratitude that I have. A lot of gratitude for a team that gives me a chance like this. Happy to be a clipper and I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure that I continue to be a Clipper and I can win a championship with this team at some point.”
Being in the NBA is a privilege, and being given a second chance in the league is not something that happens easily. Primo is well aware of the fact that many out there are not happy he was given a second chance, especially this soon, after the serious allegations against him.
“I think it really is all about actions. Talk is cheap, guys. Like, honestly, it's going to be my actions each and every day that proves my character and allows the relationships that I feel with my coworkers to feel stronger.”
Only time will tell if Josh Primo truly was deserving of a second chance.
“I think over the next couple years, over the next little while, I think my actions and the work that I’ve put in are gonna continue to show and I’m gonna be able to prove my character over time. But, again, it’s daily actions and it’s each and every day. But it’s not gonna happen overnight.”