LOS ANGELES — On the same day the NBA suspended Josh Primo four games following a league investigation that determined he "engaged in inappropriate and offensive behavior by exposing himself to women," the Clippers signed the 20-year-old combo guard, with a team official saying the Clippers felt comfortable with signing Primo following months of meeting with him and hearing from specialists who had evaluated him.
Primo has signed a two-way contract that will allow him to play in the NBA and with the team's Ontario-based G League affiliate. In addition to his four-game suspension from the league, Primo also will not be allowed to play in any of the Clippers' four preseason games, according to a person with knowledge of the NBA's discipline.
As a basketball talent, the 6-foot-6 Primo — a Canadian who played one collegiate season at Alabama — came with few questions. Drafted 12th overall by San Antonio in 2021, he entered the NBA as its youngest player and appeared in 50 games as a rookie. Just four games into his second season, however, Primo was waived by the Spurs on Oct. 29, 2022. A psychologist who worked for the team later alleged in a civil complaint against the Spurs that Primo had exposed his genitals to her nine times during individual private sessions. The psychologist and the Spurs settled the lawsuit one month later.
The sheriff's office in Texas' Bexar County, which includes San Antonio, opened a preliminary investigation into Primo last November. Its criminal investigations division then filed a criminal case for indecent exposure with the Bexar County's district attorney office on May 18, a sheriff's spokeswoman said Friday by email. That case is "now in the review process" with the district attorney, she said.
The Clippers' signing of Primo was met by strong pushback from fans on social media. Lawrence Frank, the Clippers' president of basketball operations, told The Los Angeles Times the decision to sign Primo was preceded by "a great deal of conversation with people throughout the organization." Female employees who interact most frequently with players were consulted on the decision, he said.
"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," he said.
The Clippers met Primo during his lone season at Alabama, and spent more time with him before the 2021 NBA draft. Primo was not signed after being waived by San Antonio, and spent much of the past year in Los Angeles. The Clippers first began considering whether to sign Primo a few months after he was waived, Frank said.
"We've spent a great deal of time for the last several months with Josh," he said. "We've had specialists who we consult with who've evaluated Josh, and the reason why we're moving forward is, based on their confidence level after the evaluations and what he's doing currently, they feel he can be a positive contributor to the organization moving forward."
The specialists who evaluated Primo worked in mental-health fields, Frank said. The NBA investigation found that 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," the NBA wrote in announcing Primo's suspension. "Nevertheless, this behavior does not conform to league standards and warrants discipline."
"We're not disputing allegations or condoning the alleged conduct, but why we're here is because of all the work he's put in since those allegations," Frank said.
He added that "this isn't about Josh performing right now. This is about him continuing to do the work off the court to try to earn another opportunity. He's done a lot of work off the court and with it, we feel he's worthy of another opportunity."
With Primo's signing, the team's three two-way slots are now filled, with Primo joining recent second-round draft pick Jordan Miller and Moussa Diabate.
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