When Denver acquired Kostas Papanikolaou from Houston, reports came almost immediately that Denver would waive the small forward out of Greece. Denver already has 14 fully guaranteed contracts, most teams only carry that many players, and if the Nuggets keep a 15th it could be Erick Green (who is set to make nearly $4 million less).
Maybe the Nuggets ultimately will waive Papanikolaou, but not yet.
From Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post.
On Saturday night, there were rumors about Denver releasing him. However at this point there are just rumors. Until now, the player’s side has no knowledge for this matter and the Nuggets hasn’t informed them about those kinds of intentions. According to Eurohoops sources, the Nuggets’ plan when they acquired Papanikolaou was to keep him in their roster and take their decision about him during Eurobasket, probably at the end of the tournament. That was their intention and that’s why they didn’t try to use his contract as a trade asset.
The Nuggets have until Oct. 4 to make a decision on Papanikolaou, that is when his $4.8 million contract for the next season becomes fully guaranteed.
What Denver wants to see is what kind of growth he has made. Papanikolaou was the best Houston player off the bench the first month of the season — he could play the three or the four and was a fantastic passer. As the season wore on the league seemed to catch up with him, and once the team traded for Corey Brewer and Josh Smith Papanikolaou dropped far down the rotation. Then he suffered a pretty severe ankle sprain and barely saw the court after the All-Star break. For the season he got in 43 games, shot 35 percent overall and 29.2 percent from three. To use a good snapshot, he had a PER of 7.8, which usually means a guy should be in the D-League or overseas.
The Nuggets can afford to watch Papanikolaou through the upcoming Eurobasket then even at workouts at their facilities at the start of training camp. They can see if the guy from the first part of the season is still there.
But the smart money — because Denver would save so much of it — is that he still eventually is cut. He’s going to have to prove