NBA Rumors: Denver Nuggets Waive Erick Green And Re-Sign Kostas Papanikolaou To Shore Up Frontcourt

The Denver Nuggets are currently dealing with several injuries and recently made a move to shore up their thin frontcourt.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reports that the Nuggets have waived guard Erick Green and re-signed forward Kostas Papanikolaou.

The Nuggets are a little thin up front as Wilson Chandler, Jusuf Nurkic, Joffrey Lauvergne, and Nikola Jokic are a little banged up, but it is possible Lauvergne and Jokic could return for tonight’s game against Utah, according to Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post.

Update: Dempsey tweeted that Lauvergne is likely out against Utah, but the Nuggets are hopeful Jokic can “give it a go”.

Lauvergne (low back strain) and Jokic (low back strain) sat out the Nuggets 120-109 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday. Lauvergne has looked good in the early going, starting all three of the games before sitting out against the Lakers. The 24-year-old Frenchman is averaging 10.7 points and 6.3 rebounds while shooting 66.7 percent from the floor in 19.0 minutes of action. Jokic has also been quite productive, averaging 6.7 points and 4.3 caroms in 15.7 minutes of action.

In the meanwhile, Chandler (hip) and Nurkic have not played this season. Chandler is expected to be out another week, and it is possible Nurkic will be out until December.

Denver (2-2) snapped a two-game losing streak with its victory over the Lakers despite not having a player over six-foot-nine to dress for the game. Kenneth Faried led the way for the Nuggets with 28 points and 15 rebounds while Danilo Gallinari added 21 points against the Lakers. More importantly for the Nuggets, J.J. Hickson came up big in his first significant action of the season. In 25 minutes of playing time, Hickson tallied 17 points – on 8-of-9 shooting – and grabbed seven rebounds. Hickson, who is averaging 9.0 points and 4.0 boards, is expected to start at power forward against Utah (tonight), according to ESPN.

J.J. Hickson had an outstanding game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday, coring 17 points on 8-of-9 shooting (photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images).
J.J. Hickson had an outstanding game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday, coring 17 points on 8-of-9 shooting [Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images]

Papanikolaou is capable of playing either forward spot and is known as a good spot-up shooter. The 6-foot-8, 25-year old can knock down an occasional three-pointer and is a good passer but a below average rebounder. He is expected to be available for tonight’s game.

Papanikolaou averaged 4.2 points and 2.7 rebounds in 18.5 minutes per game across 43 appearances as a rookie last year with Houston. He was acquired by Denver in the trade that sent Ty Lawson to the Rockets.

Papanikolaou was released by the Nuggets before his nearly $4.798 million salary became fully guaranteed at the start of training camp. Papanikolaou averaged just 1.8 points per game for the Greek national team at this summer’s Eurobasket tournament.

Green saw very limited action this year after beating out Nick Johnson for the third point guard spot. The 24-year-old saw just 2.3 minutes of playing time in three appearances this year. He was 0-of-1 from the field and had one rebound to go along with an assist. Denver still owes Green $100,000 that was guaranteed if he clears waivers.

Erick Green was waived by Denver (photo by Doug Pensinger)
Erick Green was waived by Denver [Photo by Doug Pensinger]

Green, the No. 46 selection of the 2013 draft, averaged 3.4 points in 43 games last season. He will still receive the $100,000 from Denver that he was guaranteed if he clears waivers.

Denver has had an uneven start to the season. After handily beating the Rockets by 20, the Nuggets looked bad against Minnesota (95-78, loss) and was blown out by Oklahoma City (117-93). Gallinari leads the Nuggets with 17.3 points a game, while Faried is second on the team in scoring (15.3) and tops the list with 10.3 boards.

Rookie point guard Emmanual Mudiay has shown flashes of his brilliance this year but also his lack of playing experience. He is averaging 12.5 points, 6.5 assists, and 3.3 rebounds while also turning the ball over 6.3 times a game. Mudiay is shooting just 30.9 percent from the field but an impressive 47.1 percent from beyond the arc.

[Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images]