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Printezis And Papanikolaou: The Greek Knicks

The New York Knicks hold the rights to Kostas Papanikolaou – their second round draft pick from this year – and Georgios Printezis – who they acquired the rights to in the Tyson Chandler deal. These two Europeans are leading the way for the Greece National Team, in hopes of qualifying for the Olympic tournament.

In a Monday victory over Jordan, Kostas Papanikolaou led the way with 19 points, on an efficient 7/10 shooting, and grabbed five rebounds, in just 19 minutes. Georgios Printezis was the team’s second leading scorer, pitching in with 16 points, on a crazy efficient 7/8 shooting, and grabbed seven rebounds, in just 17 minutes.

On Wednesday night, Greece defeated Puerto Rico by 14, in a game that saw Kostas Papanikolaou score nine points, on 3/6 shooting, and grab four rebounds. Printezis scored 16, on 6/11 shooting. Combined, Printezis and Papanikolaou are now 6/10 from three-point range in two games.

Today, Greece lost to Nigeria in a one-point game (80-79). Papanikolaou played 24 minutes, shot 3/5 from the field en route to eight points and grabbed one rebound. Printezis scored 10 points, on 5/8 shooting, and corralled three rebounds. Unfortunately, with the loss against Nigeria, Greece is eliminated from Olympic play, so we won’t see our Greek friends for a while.

Needless to say, both of the Greek’s performances had Knicks fans impressed and asking when they could see court time in the states.

Georgios Printezis is a free-agent right now, but will not be working out with the Knicks’ Summer League squad, since he’s busy with international play. Unfortuantley, since Printezis was a second round pick, he cannot be given the rookie exception, since it’s only for first round picks. Also, since the Knicks are over the salary cap, the Knicks can only dish out the veteran minimum.

The minimum salary for players with no experience in the league is set around $470,000 – significantly lower than the $1.48 million Printezis made this past season. While Printezis could sign for that minimum deal, it’s unlikely he will do so. He’s respected over-seas and will be seeing much more lucrative offers. Unfortunately, it seems as if the Knicks cannot afford to bring Printezis to New York.

Kostas Papanikolaou is still under contract over-seas for two more years and will not be in Las Vegas to play for the Summer League team. He’s under contract for the next two season, but is eligible for a buyout after the 2012-2013 season. If he was to be bought-out, the Knicks would be able to pay $550,000 of the $1 million buyout. His agent has hinted at a NBA appearance in the 2013-2014 season, which would mean a buyout would occur.

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So, it doesn’t look like we’ll see a Greek – Kostas Papanikolaou – grace the floors of Madison Square Garden until the 2013-2014 season, but even that isn’t a guarantee. They’ve been exciting to watch in the qualifying tournament, so hopefully they continue to improve and prepare for an eventual leap into the N.B.A.