Khimki Moscow Region on Monday hired Rimas Kurtinaitis for a second candidacy as head coach of the club after Georgios Bartzokas resigned. The contract with Kurtinaitis is for the remainder of the season with an option for the 2019-20 campaign. Kurtinaitis, 58, served as Khimki's head of bench from 2011 to 2016 and led the club to the EuroCup crown in 2012 and again in 2015. He also coached Khimki in two Turkish Airlines EuroLeague campaigns in which he compiled a 23-20 record. Only Alexey Shved, Sergey Monya, Egor Vialtsev and Timofey Yakushin remain from Kurtinaitis's previous stint with the club. He last coached Rytas Vilnius of his native Lithuania last season and guided the team to EuroCup Top 16 and the finals of both the Lithuanian Cup and league playoffs. Kurtinaitis also won the EuroCup in 2009 with Rytas and his three triumphs make him the winningest coach in that competition's history.
A legendary shooter as a player, Kurtinaitis won an Olympic gold medal with the Soviet Union in 1988 and Olympic bronze medals with Lithuania in 1992 and 1996. He started his coaching career with Gala Baku of Azerbaijan and has also coached Ural Great of Russia, Sakalai Vilnius of Lithuania, Slask Wroclaw of Poland, VEF Riga of Latvia and Cantu of Italy. Among his other coaching accomplishments, Kurtinaitis won back-to-back Lithuanian League and Cup doubles as well as the Baltic League trophy with Rytas in 2009 and he guided Khimki to its first VTB United League title in 2011.
Bartzokas, 53, joined Khimki in the summer of 2017 and led the club to its first EuroLeague Playoff appearance last season. He compiled a 24-28 record in his time with the club. Bartzokas has spent seven seasons as a EuroLeague head coach with five different clubs – Maroussi Athens, Olympiacos Piraeus, Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar, FC Barcelona Lassa and Khimki. He won the EuroLeague with Olympiacos in 2013 and was subsequently named the Aleksander Gomelskiy Coach of the Year for that season. He took Lokomotiv on a historic run to the Final Four in 2016. This season Khimki has struggled with injuries and enters this week's games in 13th place with a 7-12 record.
"First of all, we would like to thank Georgios Bartzokas for his work. With him, Khimki experienced its most successful season in the EuroLeague and showed the best result in the club's history, having reached the playoffs. We appreciate Bartzokas's contribution in the development of our club," Khimki's general manager Pavel Astakhov said. "The decision to change the coach in the middle of the season is very difficult, especially with a tough schedule of two or three games per week. However, the situation in the team required changes. Rimas Kurtinaitis is the only experienced high-level specialist who does not need time to adapt in the team, as he knows the club from the inside. The brightest and victorious pages in the history of our club are connected with the name of Kurtinaitis. Over the past years, we have maintained constant friendly contact with him. We are confident that with the coming of Kurtinaitis we will be able to achieve the goals set for the club at the beginning of the season."