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The Spurs were more involved in 2004 NBA Draft than in the previous season

A continued focus on foreign-born basketball players shaped the Spurs’ picks.

Phoenix Suns v San Antonio Spurs

Welcome to the Open Thread. During the month of July, we are talking NBA Draft. As we lead up to the 2021 NBA Draft on July 29th, we will be revisiting the Spurs draft choices. Today we remember 2004 NBA Draft.

While the Spurs took a pass on the 2003 NBA Draft, they made up for the lack of picks by taking 4 players in 2004.

For starters, the Spurs chose Beno Udrih with their 28th pick. He played his first 3 NBA season with the Spurs winning two NBA Championships in 2005 and 2007. He stayed active in the NBA until 2018 when he went to Lithuania, playing overseas for a season before retiring. He served as an assistant coach for the G-League Westchester Knicks in 2020 before heading to the New Orleans Pelicans to work as a player development coach.

In addition, the Spurs picked up the draft rights to Viktor Sanikidze on draft day from the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for 2005 second-round draft pick and cash considerations. The Spurs retain his rights to this day, but he never played for the Spurs (sans the 2007 NBA Summer League). Sanikidze was a slam dunk champion in both the Georgian and Estonian leagues. He played until 2016, returning in 2019 as a sport director. His career took a turn into politics. Sanikidze is part of the Georgian Dream party. Since 2020, Sanikidze, a member of Parliament of Georgia, has served as first deputy chairperson of the Sports and Youth Issues Committee.

Romain Sato was drafted using a 52nd pick that was acquired from the Memphis Grizzlies when the Spurs traded the draft rights to Gordan Giriček to Memphis in 1999. Sato was subsequently waived by the Spurs near the trade deadline. He has never suited up or played an NBA game but has had a long career overseas.

The Spurs used their number 57 pick to draft Russian Sergei Karaulov. He never played with the Spurs and has continued to play in Russia throughout his career.

So, four foreign born players were drafted. Unfortunately, there was not a lot of activity within the Spurs organization.

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