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The injury bug has bitten the Summer League Spurs

It’s hard to take much away from SL when everyone is getting hurt.

2021 Salt Lake City Summer League: San Antonio Spurs v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

If you watched the Summer League Spurs’ loss to the Bulls in Las Vegas last night, you probably noticed it, or maybe you read up about it here at Pounding the Rock. If it was the latter, you saw this tidbit from Noah about how the injury bug as stuck the team:

Not only did they lose another close contest, 89-92, but they saw their double-digit cushion evaporate expeditiously once Devin Vassell exited the game with hamstring tightness. To make matters worse, Jaylen Morris, the only player with a hot hand, also left early with a wrist injury.

As if an unfamiliar group needed any more obstacles to overcome, rookie Josh Primo also sat this one out as a precautionary measure for an earlier calf ailment. And while Tre Jones rolled his ankle in the opening moments of the third quarter, he remained on the court.

It’s not hard to imagine the Vassell’s playing time is likely over for the summer, if only out of an abundance of caution. He already has a role on the Spurs, so there’s no sense risking further injury. It’s not too often that second-year players with his amount of NBA minutes go to SL, but he’s mainly just there for the experience after it was canceled last summer due to the COVID delay. After five games between Vegas and Salt Lake City, he has easily been the Spurs’ best player, so he doesn’t have much else to prove there.

Beyond that, due to the mounting injuries it will be hard to give any Spurs expected to be part of the roster this fall any grade beyond an “incomplete”. Tre Jones has proven he may have a chance to compete for the void at backup point guard left behind by Patty Mills, but the sample size is small since he missed SLC with another injury and now has a rolled ankle, which may slow him down — if he continues playing at all.

As for the rookies, Primo has shown those flashes that make him such a tantalizing prospect, but the 18 year old is still predictably raw, and injury aside, the odds of anything he does in SL somehow vaulting him into the Spurs’ main rotation was always slim-to-none. The same can be said for second-round pick Joe Wieskamp, whose signature three-point shooting has so far eluded him in SL. It will inevitably return, but after all the moves the Spurs have made this offseason, he seems more destined for a two-contract at this point anyway.

The bottom line is this (and it’s a good thing to keep in mind every summer): don’t take too much away from the Spurs’ Summer League performance. Not only has it been marred by injuries, but other factors like the short training camp (again, COVID) and the different rosters and competition level make it nearly impossible to judge how these players will look in a proper NBA setting. Fortunately, training camp for the real NBA season is just around the corner.