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Houston Rockets: Nick Johnson Sole Survivor of Ty Lawson Trade

By Tamberlyn Richardson
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If I told you at the start of the off season the Houston Rockets would get Ty Lawson for Nick Johnson you would have thought I was crazy, right? Well in essence that is what the trade to get him has boiled down to. Pablo Prigioni and Joey Dorsey were basically cut immediately and now a third player of the four Rockets traded has been waived.

Sometimes you are scanning the news and social media and something makes you stop and say out loud WOW! That was the case as I read today that former Houston Rockets prospect Kostas Papanikolaou was waived by the Denver Nuggets.

Denver won’t even take a look at him next week as they convene for training camp. Nope they are dumping him already. I’d say it’s a bit of a shocker, but when I started looking at the Nuggets roster perhaps it’s not that big of a surprise given how many forwards Denver has. There is Darrell Arthur, Wilson Chandler, J.J. Hickson, Kenneth Faried and Danilo Gallinari. While Papanikolaou would be slotted in at the three he has more than enough skills to play the two (shooting guard) or four (power forward) as well.

By waiving him before Oct. 4, Denver sheds $4.8 million owed Kostas Papanikolaou for the coming season

— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) September 25, 2015

I guess his $4.8 million salary due this 2015-16 season was not a price the Nuggets were willing to spend. Still, with news Anthony Bennett had been bought out of his contract and will likely join the Toronto Raptors on a league minimum salary, one would think Kostas will draw some serious consideration given his potential ceiling.

The former Rocket hails from Greece and has experience playing on winning teams. His arsenal includes some solid fundamental skills like passing and much of the reason he didn’t get more run in Houston had to do with the high ankle sprain he suffered that took an eternity to heal.

This is the best moment of Kostas Papanikolaou’s on-court career, the scoop under Anthony Davis (via @The_Answer_5): https://t.co/PrWN4ROxRj

— Tas Melas (@TasMelas) September 25, 2015

He played in 43 games averaging 18.5 minutes, scoring 4.2 points, dishing out 2.0 assists and pulling in 2.7 rebounds. Sure the 25 year old hasn’t thrown up huge numbers, but one can’t help wonder if he played in the right system he could be a stat sheet filler. He played 6 seasons in Europe and also posted reasonable totals.

At 6’8″ with good ball handling skills he offers size that can be utilized either as a big shooting guard or at small forward. Watch to see if Portland Trail Blazers look to pick him up as he might fit their system well.

For those looking back at the trade that sent Papanikolaou to Denver in exchange for Ty Lawson it continues to look like the biggest trade of the summer. Especially now that the only Nick Johnson remains on the Nuggets roster of the 4 players Houston sent their way! 

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