Probably the most noteworthy piece the Nuggets got back from the Rockets for embattled point guard Ty Lawson in last month’s trade was second-year Greek forward Kostas Papanikolaou. He didn’t play much in his rookie season in Houston, but the former second-round pick showed flashes of versatility and seemed like a candidate to stay on the Nuggets’ roster despite his $4.7 million salary being unguaranteed.
Apparently not. Eurobasket.com’s David Pick says the Nuggets are cutting him loose:
As former Nets executive and salary-cap guru Bobby Marks points out, letting Papanikolaou go puts Denver about $7 million below the salary cap, leaving them well-positioned to take back salary in a trade, either trading for an impact player or taking back a contract to get a pick from another team. If they didn’t view Papanikolaou as a long-term piece in their rebuild, the cap space is probably more valuable to them going forward.
There’s a good chance Papanikolaou gets picked up by another team between now and training camp, as he’s still a highly regarded prospect around the league.