Nikola Milutinov

Former Spurs First-Rounder Milutinov Signs With CSKA Moscow

Serbian center Nikola Milutinov has officially signed a three-year contract with EuroLeague powerhouse CSKA Moscow, the Russian team announced today (Twitter link). The agreement between the two sides was first reported back in April.

Milutinov, 25, was selected by the Spurs with the 26th overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft. However, he has yet to sign an NBA contract, spending the last five seasons with Olympiacos in Greece. He was named the Greek League’s Most Improved Player in 2017 and earned All-Star nods in 2018 and 2019. In 24 EuroLeague games this season, Milutinov averaged 10.3 PPG and 8.2 RPG.

International contracts for draft-and-stash prospects often include NBA outs, but that’s not believed to be the case on Milutinov’s new deal with CSKA Moscow, Keith Smith of NBC Sports reported in April. At the very least, the commitment ensures the big man won’t be joining the Spurs for the 2020/21 season. The odds of him eventually coming stateside probably decline a little with each year he remains in Europe.

Milutinov is part of a small group of former first-round picks who haven’t signed NBA contracts but whose rights continue to be held by NBA teams. Magic 2019 first-rounder Chuma Okeke is the only one considered likely to sign with his club this offseason.

International Notes: Messina, Italy, Euro Salaries

Olimpia Milano president and head coach Ettore Messina doesn’t think that the EuroLeague will resume, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays. Messina, a former Spurs assistant, made his comments to RaiSport.

“A resumption of the EuroLeague season looks very difficult to me,” Messina said. “Maybe in a more normal situation, in two-three months. But it is something you can’t plan now. Thinking about 18 European teams flying from one country to another or players coming back from USA seems very unlikely.”

We have more from the basketball world:

  • There’s a good chance that the Italian Basketball League will play without fans in the stands for at least the remainder of the calendar year if and when it resumes, Carchia writes in another story. According to Mediaset, the Italian government may not allow any spectators at sporting events until at least January. That could be a financial disaster for Italy’s basketball clubs, many of whom rely on ticket sales, Carchia adds.
  • CSKA Moscow president Andrey Vatutin said EuroLeague clubs need to come up with salary compromises with its players, according to a Sportando post. Nikola Milutinov, a Spurs draft-and-stash prospect, has reportedly agreed to a three-year deal with the Moscow club. “Everything in the economy is crashing down, restrictions are being extended, and CSKA confidently throws millions from the bedside table. Because of quarantine and self-isolation, I don’t remember the last time I picked up a pen in order to sign something,” Vatutin said. “For CSKA, as for all Euroleague clubs, it’s now more important to find a compromise on salaries with current players.”
  • The Pelicans reportedly have their eyes on a guard who plays for Maccabi Tel Aviv. Get the details here.

International Notes: Kalaitzakis, Broekhoff, Milutoniv, NBL

Euro guard Georgios Kalaitzakis has submitted paperwork to make himself eligible for the draft, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony reports. Kalaitzakis is ranked as the No. 96 prospect in the ESPN Top 100. The native of Greece averaged 12.2 PPG, 4.3 RPG and 2.3 APG in 29 MPG for Nevezis in Lithuania this season. The 6’7” Kalaitzakis led the U20 European Championship in scoring last summer at 19.7 PPG.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Former Mavericks swingman Ryan Broekhoff has reportedly received an offer from Greece’s Olympiacos, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays. Israeli reporter Roi Cohen broke the news on Broekhoff, who was waived by Dallas in February. The 6’6″, 29-year-old Broekhoff appeared in 59 games during his two seasons with the Mavericks, including one start this season.
  • Spurs draft-and-stash prospect Nikola Milutinov is signing a three-year deal with CSKA Moscow, Carchia reports in another tweet. Barcelona also made a multi-year offer for the center, Carchia adds. The 7-footer, the 26th pick in the 2015 draft, averaged 10.3 PPG and 8.2 RPG in 24 games for Olympiacos this season.
  • NBL players in Australia have been asked by the league to take a 50% pay cut next season, Carchia reports. The league and team owners have also threatened to pull the players’ health insurance and career-ending injury insurance.

Texas Notes: Spurs, Milutinov, Walker, Bzdelik

Barring any surprises, the Spurs‘ starting five for next season appears set, writes Jeff McDonald of The Athletic. Dejounte Murray, returning from a torn right ACL, should take over at point guard, with Derrick White joining him in the backcourt. DeMar DeRozan will move to forward, alongside LaMarcus Aldridge and Jakob Poeltl, who impressed the coaching staff after a midseason move into the starting lineup.

That means, if he returns, Rudy Gay will continue in a bench role, along with Bryn Forbes, who started much of this season. Coach Gregg Popovich wants DeRozan to become more proficient from 3-point territory to make up for not having Forbes as a starter.

“That’s what the league is all about now,” Popovich said. “End of the game, the first thing that you look at is 3-point shooting, and it covers up a whole lot of warts. You can get beat on the boards —  I mean, in one of the games that we beat Denver, they had 28 second-chance points, but they shot horribly, and we shot very well. Game over. It’s not very interesting. It’s not much fun. But that’s the way the league is.”

There’s more NBA news from Texas:

  • The Spurs may be ready to add draft-and-stash project Nikola Milutinov to their roster, McDonald adds. The 26th pick in 2015, Milutinov has been playing for Olympiacos B.C. of the Greek Basketball League, where he averaged 10.7 PPG and 6.8 RPG this season. The Spurs will explore the 24-year-old center’s market value before bringing him to the U.S., and McDonald expects them to let him adjust to the league gradually, just as they did with Boban Marjanovic and Davis Bertans.
  • Kemba Walker appears to be the Mavericks‘ most realistic option in free agency, Marc Stein of the New York Times said in a recent radio interview in Dallas. Stein said the Mavs are “legitimately intrigued” by Walker, and he believes they will get a meeting with him when free agency begins in July.
  • Rockets associate head coach Jeff Bzdelik has found a way to balance basketball and family after briefly walking away from the game last fall, relays Brian T. Smith of The Houston Chronicle. Houston convinced him to return in November and he helped fix the defense after a disastrous start. “He was kind of resolute for a little while,” said Rockets CEO Tad Brown. “Fortunately for us, we were able to wear him down and end up bringing him back. The first thing was always, let’s make sure everything is OK, personally, with he and his family. And then, secondarily, how do we handle this, how do we move forward? But at the same time, he’s a key part of what we do. How do we get him back to (our) family?”

Southwest Notes: Barnes, Nowitzki, Duncan

The Mavericks are planning an expanded role for newly signed forward Harrison Barnes, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com. Dallas gave Barnes $94MM over four years after losing small forward Chandler Parsons to the Grizzlies in free agency. “You’re going to see a lot more to his game than you’ve seen in the past,” Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said of Barnes. “I think he can do a lot more than he’s been asked to do, and that’s what we expect to see. … Maybe not first year, but I think he’s going to grow into [the role of go-to guy]. Just because a guy hasn’t done things doesn’t mean he can’t do it.” Barnes, 24, averaged 13.6 points and 5.7 rebounds in 66 games with the Warriors last season.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Dirk Nowitzki probably would have left the Mavericks as a free agent or requested a trade by now if he hadn’t won a title in 2011, contends Tim Cowlishaw of The Dallas Morning News. Cowlishaw also gives Dallas a C grade for its performance in free agency and speculates that medical reports on Parsons must have been scary for Cuban to let him go.
  • The SpursTim Duncan, who announced his retirement this week, has officially cleared waivers, according to Real GM. It’s a minor footnote for someone who almost certainly is done with the NBA, but Duncan would be a free agent if he ever does decide to return.
  • San Antonio has removed its cap hold for 2015 first-round pick Nikola Milutinov, Real GM notes. The move means the 6’11” Serbian center, who played this season with Olympiacos in Greece, will spend at least one more year overseas.
  • The Grizzlies have withdrawn their qualifying offer to shooting guard Nick Calathes, according to Real GM. Calathes, who spent this season with Panathinaikos in Greece, would be an unrestricted free agent if he returns to the NBA. The 27-year-old spent two seasons in Memphis.

Nikola Milutinov Signs To Play In Greece

Nikola Milutinov, who the Spurs drafted with the No. 26 overall pick, has signed a three-year deal with Olympiacos of Greece, Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia reports.

Carchia initially reported negotiations between Milutinov and Olympiacos on Friday. The Spurs were not going to sign him, anyway, this season. The Spurs have already filed paperwork with the NBA stating that he won’t sign this season so that the team could remove his cap hold.

The big man had reportedly been close to a deal with Panathinaikos, another Greek team, but Panathinaikos landed Miroslav Raduljica instead. Milutinov spent this past season with KK Partizan in his native Serbia.

Southwest Notes: Curry, Fredette, McDaniels

The competition in the Western Conference is fierce, and Rockets GM Daryl Morey acknowledges that even in the wake of the Ty Lawson trade, his team isn’t the favorite, as Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle relays. Still, the Rockets made a key step forward, as Feigen examines.

“People always used to say our point guard position was terrible, the worst, whatever,” Morey said. “I always pointed out that Pat Beverley was a really good player. He’s just maybe suffering compared to all these perennial All-Stars we go against in the West. Obviously, we’re still going to be going against those very difficult All-Stars, but Ty Lawson is somebody who gives you a top-10 point guard in the league, somebody who can really help us.”

Here’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Pelicans only made a “token offer” to Seth Curry that included a partial guarantee, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). A previous report indicated that they were close to a deal with him for a guaranteed contract. Curry signed a two-year, fully guaranteed contract with the Kings.
  • New Orleans didn’t want to re-sign Jimmer Fredette, Wojnarowski says in the same tweet. The ex-Pelicans guard signed with the Spurs instead. Still, Fredette faces a challenge to find his niche in San Antonio, where he’ll have to prove he’s capable of replacing Marco Belinelli‘s shooting and beat out Kyle Anderson and Jonathon Simmons for minutes, as Jay Yeomans of the Deseret News examines.
  • The three-year contract that K.J. McDaniels signed with the Rockets includes a team option on the final season and starts at $3.19MM, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. That first-year salary figure means Houston is essentially prevented from using any more of its mid-level exception without triggering an $88.74MM hard cap.
  • Maurice Ndour‘s contract with the Mavericks is for three years, with this season’s salary and half of next season’s guaranteed, league sources tell Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com (Twitter link).
  • Nikola Milutinov, this year’s No. 26 overall pick, is negotiating with Olympiacos of Greece, sources tell Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia. The Spurs draftee had reportedly been close to a deal with Panathinaikos, another Greek team, but Panathinaikos landed Miroslav Raduljica instead. Regardless, the Spurs won’t sign him this season.

Western Notes: Durant, Matthews, Hamilton

Executives from around the league seem to think that Kevin Durant will end up re-signing with the Thunder next year, but the Wizards, Mavericks, Lakers, Heat, Knicks and Nets are expected to be among his most dogged suitors, writes Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post. Damion James, a Wizards summer-leaguer whom Castillo describes as Durant’s best friend, says it’ll come down to wins and losses.

“He’ll do whatever it takes to win. Whoever gives him the best chance to win is where he’s going to end up,” James said.

The Thunder certainly seem to have kept themselves in the discussion on that front, having just paid the max to avoid losing Enes Kanter. Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • No contract handed out this summer has seemed to draw as many surprised reactions for its munificence as the one Wesley Matthews ended up with from the Mavericks, observes Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. The shooting guard was going to make $57MM over four years with the Mavs before they bumped his deal up to the maximum of $70,060,025, notes Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com. “A healthy Wesley Matthews at $70MM is insane,” one GM told Bulpett. “But Wesley Matthews coming off Achilles’ surgery at $70MM? What’s a stronger way to say insane?”
  • Justin Hamilton is close to a deal with Valencia of Spain, according to Paco Garcia Caridad of the Spanish outlet Marca (Twitter link; translation via Trapani). Hamilton, who went to the Finals with the Heat in 2013/14, finished this past season as a member of the Timberwolves.
  • Miroslav Raduljica has agreed to sign with Panathinaikos of Greece, reports Sportando’s Enea Trapani. The Kings reportedly had interest in the big man who was briefly with the Wolves this past season. The team was reportedly close to a deal with Nikola Milutinov, whom the Spurs drafted 26th overall, but now the status of negotiations with Milutinov is unclear. Regardless, the Spurs have already filed paperwork with the league saying they won’t sign Milutinov this year, thus clearing his cap hold.

Southwest Notes: Mavs, Williams, Calathes

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban spoke Tuesday with Clippers owner Steve Ballmer and “it started off more than a little frigid,” as Cuban recounted via Cyber Dust, his social media app, and as the Dallas Morning News relays. That’s not surprising, given the DeAndre Jordan saga, but Cuban said he and Ballmer cleared the air.

“I told him exactly what I told other owners, I didn’t have a problem with his hail Mary approach to keeping a player,” Cuban wrote. “I understood why they did it. And even how they did it. They got their player back. End of story.”

Cuban said he doesn’t have a problem with the July Moratorium, which seemingly helped facilitate Jordan’s reversal, but even if he did, the moratorium doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon. Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Deron Williams‘ two-year deal with the Mavs is worth $10MM and includes a player option, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
  • The clock appears to be ticking on an NBA future for Grizzlies restricted free agent Nick Calathes. The point guard denied to Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal that he has signed with Panathinaikos of Greece, but he’ll commit to that team if he doesn’t find an NBA deal today, according to David Pick of Eurobasket.com (Twitter link). Calathes is drawing NBA interest, but he’s hesitant to continue as a backup, Pick hears. The Mavericks have reportedly contacted him, though that was two weeks ago. Memphis has the power to match all competing bids from NBA teams, but not from overseas clubs.
  • Panathinaikos is close to a deal with center Nikola Milutinov, this year’s 26th overall pick, Sportando’s Enea Trapani writes. Regardless, Milutinov won’t soon be joining the Spurs, the team that drafted him, as San Antonio has informed the NBA that it won’t sign him or 2013 No. 28 pick Livio Jean-Charles during 2015/16, allowing San Antonio to remove their cap hits, notes Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter links).
  • The Rockets reportedly had hopes of signing draft-and-stash prospect Marko Todorovic this summer, but that won’t be happening, as the big man has signed a three-year deal with Khimki Moscow, the Russian club announced (Twitter link; hat tip to Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia).
  • Spurs GM R.C. Buford said he and the front office didn’t think that they would have been able to snag Ray McCallum if he’d have been a free agent on the open market, so they were pleased to pull off the trade with the Kings that brought him in, as Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News chronicles. McCallum, who’s excited about the deal, earned a $200K partial guarantee on his salary when the Spurs didn’t waive him Sunday.
  • A $390,089 sliver of Houston’s Jeremy Lin trade exception expired Monday, though it was essentially too small to use. The Rockets had already used the majority of the exception, once worth $8,374,646, to trade for Corey Brewer and Alexey Shved in December.
  • Brewer’s new three-year deal with the Rockets is worth precisely $23,420,913, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders shows.

Texas Notes: Singh, Rondo, Milutinov

Mavs GM Donnie Nelson said No. 52 overall pick Satnam Singh will play with the D-League’s Texas Legends this coming season, tweets Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com, presumably meaning that Dallas will stash the Indian center with its D-League affiliate rather than sign him to the NBA roster. Singh may still pay dividends for the Mavs next season, since his agents, Happy Walters and Dan Fegan, also represent apparent free agent target DeAndre Jordan, notes Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News. While we wait to see if that connection works for the Mavs, here’s more:

  • It’s doubtful that soon-to-be former Mavs point guard Rajon Rondo ends up with the Lakers now that they’ve drafted D’Angelo Russell, a source tells Sean Deveney of The Sporting News, though it’s unclear if that indicates a lack of interest from the team, from Rondo, or both. In any case, the Lakers once seemed the inevitable destination for the veteran.
  • The Rockets are reportedly aiming to pursue Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge in free agency, but GM Daryl Morey suggested that it’s a long shot they’ll open the cap room necessary to make a marquee free agent signing like that, as Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle relays. “I think there’s possible opportunities we have to explore that are bigger, but I think they’re unlikely,” Morey said. “It’s probably likely we’ll stay over the cap and use our mid-level [exception].”
  • Morey “wanted my first-born” for the No. 18 pick, Timberwolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders said jokingly of talks with the Rockets, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press. Houston used the 18th pick on Wisconsin forward Sam Dekker.
  • No. 26 pick Nikola Milutinov is likely to remain overseas this season rather than sign with the Spurs, notes Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News. The center spent this past season with KK Partizan in his native Serbia.
  • Mavs assistant coach Monte Mathis is leaving to take an assistant’s job with the Magic, the Mavs confirmed, as Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com tweets.