FRIDAY, 7:46am: The team still hasn’t publicly announced the move, but Papanikolaou’s release did take place Thursday before his salary would have become fully guaranteed, according to the RealGM transactions log.
THURSDAY, 11:49am: The Nuggets are releasing Kostas Papanikolaou for the second time this season, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Denver will be on the hook for $350K to him pursuant to his partial guarantee, providing he clears waivers, though the team will avoid paying most of his prorated one-year veteran’s minimum salary of about $800K if it formally releases him by the close of business today, as expected. The Nuggets had him on a non-guaranteed deal over the summer after bringing him in via the Ty Lawson trade, but they waived him at the start of training camp, only to re-sign him November 5th when injuries had depleted their frontcourt.
The 6’8″ combo forward struggled in international play over the summer, averaging just 1.8 points per game for the Greek national team at the Eurobasket tournament, but he put up somewhat better numbers with Denver. He posted 2.6 points and 1.5 rebounds in 11.3 minutes per contest over 26 appearances for the Nuggets, including a string of six starts from December 22nd through 30th.
Denver has better health across its roster than it did when Papanikolaou signed, with fellow combo forward Wilson Chandler‘s season-ending hip injury and a sprained right ankle for Emmanuel Mudiay the only injuries currently listed. Offing Papanikolaou would leave Denver with 14 fully guaranteed contracts and an open roster spot. The team could circle back to hot D-League prospect Erick Green, whom the Nuggets waived to sign Papanikolaou in November, though that’s just my speculation.