The San Antonio Spurs have always had an eye for overseas prospects and essentially altered the league’s mindset of what a European player truly is.
We look through their successful history of drafting players that never played a minute of college basketball but still thrived in the NBA such as Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
The Greek Basketball League has a seven-foot, 220-pound prospect of San Antonio’s by the name of Nikola Milutinov who is lighting up the EuroLeague.
Though he’s averaging only 11 points and eight rebounds a game, Milutinov has put himself in the MVP conversation for Olympiacos through 19 games.
The Spurs had an opportunity to buy out Milutinov of his contract with Olympiacos for $900,000 last summer, but R.C. Buford decided to hold off on that option until the Serbian big man developed more before hitting the big leagues.
The question is, should the Spurs consider bringing over the 24-year-old center?
According to the CBA rules, an NBA team can buy out the contract of one of their draft-and-stash players overseas up to the “Excluded International Player Payment Amount”, which for the 2018-2019 season currently stands at $700,000. Any amount over that is negotiated and comes out of the player’s (after tax) salary and added to the team’s salary.
San Antonio does have a solid frontcourt overall but have lacked the ability to defend dominant big men for several years now. While Milutinov isn’t quite the defensive anchor the Spurs need to protect the paint, he still could be a productive big man in the NBA.
The silver-and-black are thin in the front court in terms of length and size, but Buford and Co. may want to hold off a little longer in buying out the Serbian center. At this stage of the season, it may be wise to stick with the current roster as the race for the postseason gets closer but expect Milutinov to be featured in a Spurs jersey sometime soon.