Luka Samanic was a lanky 19-year-old in need of muscle and maturity when he arrived in San Antonio in summer 2019 after the Spurs selected him 19th overall in the NBA draft.
Twenty months later, it’s clear he has made strides in both areas, Austin Spurs coach Matt Nielsen said.
“He’s getting stronger, looks stronger,” Nielsen said. “And as his coach, I am not going to ease up on him because I still think he can get even better at finishing. He’s doing a good job, but I am going to keep asking for more.”
Nielsen will have to put pushing Samanic on pause, though, after the Spurs recalled the Croatian forward and rookie point guard Tre Jones from the G League on Sunday. They join a team depleted by COVID-19 after four unidentified players tested positive last week in Charlotte, N.C.
The league’s health and safety protocols that the four players are going through can last up to 14 days.
The Spurs have also been without LaMarcus Aldridge since Feb. 3 because of a sore right hip. There’s also uncertainty about the status of DeMar DeRozan after the team’s leading scorer and playmaker announced the death of his father last Friday.
NBA rules require teams to have eight eligible players for games.
The Spurs, who flew home Friday, are set to return to action Wednesday night in Oklahoma City after the NBA postponed their last four games.