The Spurs selected Nikola Milutinov with the 26th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft on Thursday.
Milutinov, 20, is a 7-foot-0 center from Serbia who has played with Partizan Belgrade of the Serbian Adriatic League for the past three seasons.
“We’re excited to get Nikola,” Spurs general manager R.C. Buford said. “He’s a young big guy that has improved a great deal over the last year. As we look to the future, we need to replenish our size. To add a player like that, we’ll give him a chance to develop and see what he can do.”
Buford said the Spurs’ front office has not addressed whether Milutinov will join the roster next season. He will not participate in the Spurs’ Summer League next month, because he will be playing for the Serbian national team.
In 29 games with Partizan last season, the 225-pound center averaged 9.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.3 assists.
Shortly after he was drafted, Milutinov tweeted, “What an honor and a privilege to be drafted by the @spurs. I am very excited to get to Texas."
The pick of Milutinov comes eight years after the Spurs drafted a 6-11 player from a European league late in the first round, Tiago Splitter with the No. 28 overall selection in 2007.
Splitter stayed in Europe for three more seasons before he arrived in San Antonio in 2010. Other Spurs first-round draft picks who have been “draft-and-stash” selections from Europe include Ian Mahinmi (No. 28, 2005) and Livio Jean-Charles (No. 28, 2013).
Milutinov is now the 12th player whose rights the Spurs hold that spent last season playing overseas.
Buford compared Milutinov’s game to former Spur Rasho Nesterovic.
“(Milutinov) is a really good passer,” Buford said. “An interesting thing about him is that he’s a better offensive rebounder than he is a defensive rebounder. You don’t see that with many people of any size.”
In the second round, the Spurs selected Cady Lalanne from the University of Massachusetts with the 55th overall pick.
Lalanne, a 6-10, 255-pound forward, was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He averaged 11.6 points and 9.5 rebounds last season at UMass. Playing four seasons at UMass, he became one of three players in school history to record 1,000 points, 800 rebounds and 100 blocks in a career.
“He’s an athletic big guy who has a really good shooting form,” Buford said.
Thursday’s draft comes on the 18-year anniversary of the day the Spurs selected Tim Duncan with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1997 NBA Draft. The Spurs haven’t drafted in the lottery since the Duncan pick, the longest such streak in NBA history.