New York Knicks: Kostas Papanikolaou

Grunwald: No potential rotation player at 48

June, 29, 2012
6/29/12
12:33
AM ET
Ulf Duda/EB via Getty ImagesGlen Grunwald saw Kostas Papanikolaou as the Knicks' best bet at 48.
Kim English may have been the closest player to making some impact on the New York Knicks next season, based on his 45.9 percent 3-point shooting during his senior season at Missouri. But the Detroit Pistons selected him just four picks before the Knicks' pick at 44.

Once the Knicks were on the clock, GM Glen Grunwald didn't believe any of the remaining draft prospects could cut next season's rotation. And that's one of the main reasons he went with Greek forward Kostas Papanikolaou, whom Grunwald believes has a chance to play in the 2013-14 season if the Knicks buy out his contract with Olympiacos for $1 million.

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"Given where we are with our team, it was unlikely anyone at 48 could step in and contribute," Grunwald said. "We felt this player can grow overseas. … He plays hard. He's a good athlete. He needs to improve his shooting. We've watched him over the course of the year and he's improved dramatically over this year. We see him as a guy who's going to work and improve.''

Grunwald said he and the front office staff will evaluate Papanikolaou again next season and decide if and when to bring him over.

"We think he’s a good player and think he’s going to get better. It’s an investment in our future," he said. "He got better over the season and wound up being the MVP of the Euroleague Final Four. We ranked him pretty high."

The 6-foot-8, 225-pound Papanikolaou is currently a member of the Greek National Team and the 2012 Euroleague champion Olympiacos. A four-year professional, the Trikala native scored a career-high 18 points against Moscow in the Euroleague championship game on May 13 and was named MVP.

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Rapid Reaction: Kostas Papanikolaou at 48

June, 28, 2012
6/28/12
11:35
PM ET
Petras Malukas/AFP/GettyImagesKostas Papanikolaou's contract with Olympiacos has two years left on it.
WHAT IT MEANS: Likely favorites Scott Machado (Iona), Darius Johnson-Odom (Marquette) and Hollis Thompson (Georgetown) were available to the New York Knicks with the 48th pick, but they probably felt none of them could make an impact next season. Instead, the Knicks went with forward Kostas Papanikolaou (Greece), who probably won't be available until the 2013-14 season. That's because his contract with Olympiacos has two years left on it. It does, however, have a reasonable $1 million buyout option next summer.

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BIGGEST POSITIVES: The lefty Papanikolaou (6-8, 225) is a little bit of a cross between foreign NBA players Manu Ginobili and Carlos Delfino. He has some craftiness like Ginobili -- he has crossover moves, can split defenders and knows how to finish -- but he's not as good of a passer. Papanikolaou is a pure scorer, who also demonstrates defensive intensity like Delfino. In fact, he'll hustle back and make blocks in transition. Like both of the current NBA players, Papanikolaou's best asset is arguably his 3-point shot.

BIGGEST NEGATIVE: That he likely won't play next season. The Knicks were coming off back-to-back wins in the second round (Landry Fields in 2010 and Josh Harrellson in '11). With what was available, there was a sense they could've done it again.

WHAT'S NEXT: What this draft pick represents is that the Knicks are really focused on re-signing their own free agents (Jeremy Lin, Steve Novak, J.R. Smith and Fields) and adding about two new veteran players in the offseason. The Knicks' biggest prize will be winning the early Bird Rights ruling and then using their mid-level exception of $3 million to sign one of the top four point guards available come July 1: Steve Nash, Andre Miller, Jason Kidd or Raymond Felton.

You can follow Jared Zwerling on Twitter.

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