Nikola Milutinov continues long career as Spurs “draft-and-stash” pick

BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 14: #21 Nikola Milutinov of Serbia in action during the games 5-6 of 2019 FIBA World Cup between Serbia and Czech Republic at Beijing Wukesong Sport Arena on September 14, 2019 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Xinyu Cui/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 14: #21 Nikola Milutinov of Serbia in action during the games 5-6 of 2019 FIBA World Cup between Serbia and Czech Republic at Beijing Wukesong Sport Arena on September 14, 2019 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Xinyu Cui/Getty Images) /
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Nikola Milutinov, the San Antonio Spurs draft pick back in 2015, signs 3-year deal with CSKA Moscow to continue playing in Europe

No strangers to overseas talent pools, the San Antonio Spurs were on the cutting edge of the “draft-and-stash” process when they selected Nikola Milutinov back in 2015. The former first-round pick recently signed a new deal with CSKA Moscow to continue playing in Europe for the foreseeable future, per Keith Smith of NBC Sports.

After being selected with the 26th pick in the 2015 Draft, the San Antonio Spurs held on to Milutinov’s draft rights as he continued to play in Europe. As he was only 20 years old when the Spurs drafted him it made sense for him to continue playing overseas. He had been playing for Olympiacos in the Greek league, one of the stronger leagues in Europe, so he would be getting playing time against grown men to help him prepare for the jump to the NBA.

Now at age 25, it remains unclear if Milutinov has any intention of coming to play for the Spurs. Per the Yahoo report, his recently signed deal with Moscow has no NBA outs. It looks like he will be playing overseas until he’s at least 28.

His age doesn’t necessarily prevent him from coming to play in the Alamo City but it’s a factor. By the time he’s approaching his 30’s, it’s unlikely he will want to upend his life to come to play for San Antonio if he hasn’t already done so. But he wouldn’t be the first European player to make a late jump, the great Arvydas Sabonis didn’t make his NBA debut until he was 31.

A 7-foot big man, Milutinov would immediately step in to bring more size to the Spurs frontcourt. He recently averaged a near double-double, posting 10.3 points and 8.2 rebounds a night. His size would help him bring a rebounding and shot-blocking presence at the very least.

It’s an interesting albeit unlikely hypothetical. At this point, we can all accept that it’s unlikely that Milutinov ever takes the floor in a San Antonio Spurs uniform.

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The 2020 Draft is full of exciting overseas prospects like Leandro Bolmaro, Killian Hayes, and Deni Avdija. If the San Antonio Spurs do go for a European prospect let’s hope they pick one who actually intends on playing for them this time in the next five years.

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