Kostas Papanikolaou will stay overseas this season after the Rockets acquired the rights to him in June 2013.
In an off-season move that went under the radar for the Houston Rockets this summer, Thomas Robinson was traded away to the Portland Trail Blazers in an effort to create salary cap space to covet free agent Dwight Howard. In return, the Rockets received the rights to Kostas Papanikolaou and Marko Todorovic.
It was believed to be a long-shot for the Rockets to bring in Papanikolaou for the 2013-2014 season, and it doesn’t seem likely that the time-table for the 23-year-old forward to play in the NBA will be anytime soon. At 6’9, Papanikolaou can play both the small forward and power forward positions, while having a nice 3-point touch.
Playing for his native Greece national team in this year’s FIBA Eurobasket, Papanikolaou’s inconsistent play has shown that he’s not quite NBA-ready yet. In 2 preliminary round games, he’s averaged 6 points and 3 rebounds, while playing 21 minutes per game.
With the Rockets currently having 19 players on the roster, and 5 forwards who can play both the 3 and 4 spots heading into training camp. The biggest weakness for Papanikolaou is that he doesn’t attack the rim, as he has not had any free throw attempts in the first 2 Eurobasket games. Whether the Rockets or another NBA team ultimately decides to bring him in, Papanikolaou will have to show more aggressiveness on the offensive side.