Nikola Milutinov is the most effective lively draft-and-stash prospect decided on withinside the first spherical to by no means make it to the NBA. Was his choice with the aid of using the Spurs a mistake or simply awful timing?
Leandro Bolmaro, the twenty third basic select out withinside the 2020 draft, has signed with the Timberwolves. This development, which apparently has not anything to do with the Spurs, absolutely created a scenario this is each curious and applicable to the Silver and Black.
Now that Bolmaro is withinside the NBA, the most effective first rounder draft-and-stash prospect that stays lively and while not having made the soar throughout the pond at any point* is Nikola Milutinov, who San Antonio picked with the twenty sixth basic select out in 2015.
(*Petteri Koponen, the 33-year-vintage thirtieth select out withinside the 2007 draft, remains lively and the Mavericks have his rights, however he made it to the courtroom docket in Summer League while Milutinov has now no longer participated in any NBA-associated events.)
For an business enterprise who has a well-earned recognition for locating skills each withinside the backside of the primary spherical and distant places, the truth that Milutinov, now 26 years vintage and gambling in Russia, turned into basically a totally wasted select out is a unprecedented black mark. Mind you, the select out on the time made feel, because it turned into made while the Spurs have been constructing round Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge, now no longer to say they nevertheless had the Big Three and an awesome helping solid in tow. Milutinov regarded like a clever stash option, too, and in reality ended up being an awesome choice withinside the feel that he advanced into a totally stable rotation huge in Europe. But that most effective makes the truth that he by no means joined the franchise all of the greater strange.
According to Milutinov, the Spurs have been those who didn’t need to make it happen. “They have been by no means extreme approximately taking me and I can’t move there with the aid of using myself,” he stated in a 2020 interview. That’s a totally robust statement, however the query is what he supposed with the aid of using “extreme.” It’s feasible San Antonio desired to deliver him over on a small settlement, however considering he turned into now no longer sure with the aid of using the rookie scale after spending 3 years unsigned following his choice, the 2 events should by no means come to an agreement. That state of affairs really makes greater feel than the Spurs basically forgetting approximately the select out or now no longer being in any respect interested by an athletic shot-blocker, finisher and offensive rebounder, specially because the crew wished huge guy intensity withinside the years following his choice.
Maybe Milutinov is proper and there has been some thing the Spurs didn’t like approximately his recreation, and that’s all. It’s difficult to inform precisely what, however, due to the fact Milutinov progressed substantially as a participant distant places over the years, ultimately incomes huge mins for powerhouse Olympiakos earlier than becoming a member of some other European large in CSKA. He by no means advanced a soar shot, however he turned into now no longer meant to, as he turned into absolutely a conventional select out and roll middle. Unless he refused to signal a rookie scale settlement and requested for plenty of cash for an untested participant, he made feel as a intensity addition on the very least, considering his recreation match the NBA well, as a minimum on offense. If the Spurs didn’t need him, buying his rights for a 2d rounder could had been wise. He turned into by no means going to be a star, however he should have made an awesome backup.
There is likewise a less complicated feasible reason for the complete scenario: Milutinov could have been a Sean Marks select out. Marks turned into the assistant GM while the huge guy turned into decided on however left the Spurs in 2016. Brian Wright took over the spot while Marks left, inheriting a stashed first rounder he in all likelihood turned into now no longer a fan of. Without Marks advocating for Milutinov, General Manager R.C. Buford may have genuinely determined to now no longer make the signing of the middle a priority, as Milutinov claims. The truth that Marks, now the overall supervisor for the Nets, currently requested for the rights to Milutinov to be covered withinside the five-crew change that covered the Spurs and despatched Spencer Dinwiddie to the Wizards, lends validity to the theory. Had Marks stayed round, perhaps Milutinov could have worn Silver and Black.
Regardless of why it happened, the truth stays that the Spurs grew to become a primary spherical select out into no manufacturing in any way and most effective obtained a 2d spherical select out and the considering-waived Chandler Hutchinson in return, in spite of the huge guy absolutely panning out as a prospect. It’s now no longer a large blunder, specially in comparison to a comparable however greater damning scenario just like the Magic deciding on Fran Vazquez with the 11th basic select out and by no means getting him to play in Orlando, however it nevertheless will be the uncommon prevalence of the Spurs basically losing resources.
Milutinov could now no longer have modified the destiny of the franchise, and he may by no means make it to the NBA now, considering he currently signed a long time cope with one in every of the largest golf equipment in Europe. He’s now no longer “The One That Got Away”, like Luis Scola turned into for years, nor an worldwide celeb that we ignored out on seeing withinside the NBA. like Dejan Bodiroga. He’s simply an awesome middle who stayed in Europe.
But he’s additionally a image of the minor however uncharacteristic errors the franchise made at some stage in their the front workplace revamp. Fortunately, the brand new management appears to be on less attackable footing now, so optimistically they’ll get such a lot of hits withinside the close to destiny that this curious leave out turns into a entire afterthought soon — if it isn’t already.