The summer of 2013 has been an extremely confusing and mind-numbing time for Bucks fans and media in general as they try to figure out the team’s ultimate goal going into the 2013-14 season. Things could get even more tricky as EuroHoops is reporting that Milwaukee is one of the teams interested in acquiring the rights for Euroleague superstar Kostas Papanikolaou from the Houston Rockets. If Milwaukee were to acquire Papanikolaou’s rights from Houston, they would have to pay at least $1 million to buy out his contract from Olympiakos by Monday’s deadline which is a daunting task in itself. On the bright side, it appears that Kostas has his eyes set on moving across the pond as reported by Marc Berman from the New York Post.
Before the team can even worries about buying his rights from Olympiakos, Milwaukee has to acquire him from Houston in a trade. Milwaukee’s summer long binge on future second round picks has been aggravating to some but it could be positive if the team could use those assets to acquire Papanikolaou.
Playing for the Euroleague’s equivalent to the Miami Heat, Papanikolaou has a key contributor to Olympiakos multiple runs for the Euroleague title as he’s been a member since joining the team before the 2009-10 season. Known primarily for his abilities on the defensive side of the ball, Kostas showed immense amounts of improvement as a perimeter shooter (shot 52 from behind the three point line during the 2012-13 season) which was an area where he struggled during previous seasons. While it is tricky to judge what kind of offensive transition that Euro prospects will have when they make the move to the NBA, it is reassuring to know that Papanikolaou’s main strength is his work on the defensive side of the ball. His overall basketball IQ and aggression could make up for an otherwise less than stellar athletic build but there could be issues when he’s going against some of the better small forwards in the league.
One of the main reasons why Milwaukee is interested in Papanikolaou is because of the real lack of solid small forwards that are available in the free agent pool. The addition of Carlos Delfino will help but there’s still a real lack of depth at small forward after Luc Richard Mbah a Moute got shipped off to Sacramento. While it’s more than certain that Giannis Antetokoumpo is regarded as the future starting small forward for Milwaukee, he’s still an extremely raw prospect who is a long ways from reaching his full potential. Similar to his younger Greek counterpart, Papanikolaou is an unproven talent in regards to American basketball but his work in the Euroleague has proven that he can produce on a bigger stage.