11:42am: The moves are official, the team announced via press release.
10:10am: The Nuggets are waiving Erick Green to clear the way for the return of Kostas Papanikolaou, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reports (Twitter link). Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post confirms the team is indeed expected to re-sign Papanikolaou, whom Denver cut before the season (Twitter link). The Nuggets are thin in the frontcourt with injuries to Wilson Chandler, Jusuf Nurkic, Joffrey Lauvergne and Nikola Jokic, as Wojnarowski and Dempsey point out (Twitter link), so Papanikolaou, a 6’8″ combo forward, can shore up that part of the team. Green, a point guard, was on a deal partially guaranteed for $100K, so the Nuggets will owe him that amount if he clears waivers.
It’s possible that Lauvergne and Jokic will play tonight, according to Dempsey (Twitter link), so the Nuggets don’t qualify for a hardship provision of a 16th roster spot, which would require them to have four players who are expected to be sidelined for at least two weeks. Thus, Denver, which has been carrying the maximum 15 players, has to drop a player in order to add one.
Papanikolaou, a 25-year-old native of Greece, averaged 4.2 points and 2.7 rebounds in 18.5 minutes per game across 43 appearances with the Rockets last season, his first in the NBA. He didn’t live up to his contract, worth more than $9MM over two years, and they traded him to the Nuggets in the Ty Lawson deal. Denver released Papanikolaou before his nearly $4.798MM salary for this season would have become guaranteed, and that was no surprise after he averaged just 1.8 points per game for the Greek national team at this summer’s Eurobasket tournament.
It’s a quick turn of fortunes for Green, whom the Nuggets kept instead of Nick Johnson when they had to trim their roster at the end of the preseason. Johnson, another player who came to Denver in the Lawson trade, had $1.825MM worth of guaranteed salary remaining over two seasons on his contract. Still, Green, the 46th pick in the 2013 draft, had yet to score in only about seven minutes of action so far this season.
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