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Friday, August 8, 2014
Kostas Papanikolaou to Rockets

By Marc Stein
ESPN.com

The Houston Rockets have struck a deal to bring highly touted European forward Kostas Papanikolaou to the NBA this season, according to sources close to the player.

Sources told ESPN.com that the Barcelona small forward, who's also a fixture on the Greek national team, has landed a potentially lucrative two-year deal with the Rockets that will give the 24-year-old an immediate opportunity to replace Chandler Parsons as Houston's small forward.

Papanikolaou's deal, sources said, will pay $4.8 million next season and includes a fully nonguaranteed team option valued at $4.6 million for the 2015-16 season.

The Rockets have held Papanikolaou's draft rights since a trade with Portland in July 2013 featuring former top-5 pick Thomas Robinson. Papanikolaou was originally selected with the No. 48 overall pick in 2012 by the New York Knicks.

The 6-foot-9 small forward has won the Euroleague championship twice already in his young career and appeared destined to continue playing in Spain this season until the Rockets, after losing Parsons in free agency to the Mavericks, decided to increase their offer.

The Rockets were limited by league rules to paying $600,000 of Papanikolaou's $1.5 million buyout with Barcelona. He previously played at Olmypiacos in his native Greece alongside current Rockets guard Patrick Beverley.