After drafting Giannis Antetokounmpo in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft, the Bucks are trying to acquire another Greek, according to EuroHoops.net.
The Bucks recently lost out on the Andrei Kirilenko sweepstakes — if, indeed, they were even involved — so their search for a starting-caliber small forward remains priority number one (or two, depending on how the Jeff Teague saga ends). The list of quality free agent small forwards has mostly evaporated, however, so Milwaukee is reportedly turning overseas.
Enter, Kostas Papanikolaou.
Here’s an excerpt from EuroHoop.net on Milwaukee’s supposed interest:
According to Eurohoops sources, the Milwaukee Bucks, the team that drafted an other Greek, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and the New Orleans Pelicans are negotiating with Euroleague’s rising star award winner and Houston in order to sign him. …
Bucks and Pelicans are more than interested on him, they are trying to get his rights and they are also aware of the fact that they have until Monday to pay Olympiacos in order to buy out Pap’s contract. The buy out of his contract is 1 million USD.
Papanikolaou, who will turn 23 at the end of July, has played with Greece’s Olympiacos since the 2009-10 season. The biggest knock on him when he declared for the draft last year was his jump shot, according to NBA.com:
If he wants to find a place for himself in the NBA will need to work on his outside shot (find consistency and some off dribble ability) and figure out the defensive concerns around him. Some athletic improvement is possible. With some strides and the proper development, we can see Papanikolaou in the rotation of a NBA franchise in the future.
Papanikolaou’s answered the critique by draining 52.1 percent of his three-pointers on 96 attempts this season. Despite his good size — 6’8″, 225 lbs — and limited lateral movement, he played small forward in Greece. He also shoots left-handed, so he’s going to be the next Toni Kukoč. Or something.
New York drafted Papanikolaou 48th overall in 2012 before shipping his rights to Portland in a deal that included, among others, Raymond Felton and Kurt Thomas. Houston recently valued him enough to acquire his rights and a few other minor parts from Portland in exchange for Thomas Robinson, who also happens to be last year’s fifth overall pick.
As the report indicates, there are a lot of moving parts and a limited amount of time to piece them together. If the Bucks want Papanikolaou to suit up for them this upcoming season, they would first have to acquire his rights from Houston via a trade. Then, they would have to convince him to come over and play in the NBA this season with a contract that’s more appealing, and likely more lucrative, than his current one. Lastly, Milwaukee would have to buy out his Olympiacos contract for $1 million, which would be a cost on top of his hypothetical NBA contract.
All of this would have to be finalized by Monday, when the buyout option expires. Good luck.
There is a glimmer of hope, however. Marc Cornstein, Papanikolaou’s agent, insists that his client is ready for the NBA this season. According to Marc Berman of the New York Post (from two weeks ago when Portland still owned his rights):
“His strong desire is to play in the NBA next season,’’ Cornstein told The Post yesterday. “He’s won two straight Euroleague titles. If that can’t happen in Portland, maybe it can happen somewhere else.’’
Szymon Szewczyk, he is not. (Although we at Bucksketball will certainly miss Szewczyk’s transparent presence.)
Perhaps the Bucks can grab him by trading not one, not two, not three, not four, but all five second-round picks they have acquired this offseason.