Berman: The Knicks have talked to the Blazers about Kostas Papanikolaou

He's the face, not the armpit. - Johannes Simon

Perhaps he'll be a Knick after all.

As soon as I read about a month ago that Kostas Papanikolaou's rights weren't long for the Portland Trail Blazers, I suspected the Knicks might be interested in reacquiring said rights. They did, after all, draft him with the 48th pick last summer expecting that he'd join the team this coming season, so we can assume they're as familiar with and fond of his game as anyone out there (though obviously not so fond they couldn't deal him for Raymond Felton). Now that it's become obvious Papanikolaou and Portland aren't meant for one another, the Blazers are sniffin' around for trades. Marc Berman of the Post reports that the Knicks are one of the teams on the line, but it's not an easy match:

The Knicks have offered future second-round picks and future considerations (cash) to Portland in an attempt to regain the rights to small forward Kostas Papanikolaou, according to sources.

The Trail Blazers have rebuffed the Knicks and were asking for their 24th pick in a swap with Portland’s 39th pick Thursday night to pony up the 6-foot-9 Greek. Knicks general manager Glen Grunwald isn’t looking to give up his first-round pick, though some draft experts consider the 24-to-39 range rather comparable in a draft weaker than last season’s.

On one hand, 39 would be a big drop-- trading into the second round interests me, but a lot of targeted names are gonna disappear in those 15 picks-- and losing a first-rounder on a guy you recently drafted 48th (even with another pick coming back) feels a bit silly. On the other hand, I'm intrigued. Everyone called Papanikolaou a steal when the Knicks grabbed him last season, and as a big, roughhousin', catch-and-shoot forward with professional experience, I expect he'd fit rather nicely into New York's rotation. And hey, 39 ain't bad, even if it projects to be juuuuust past the point where almost all the names we've been discussing are gone.

So, it's something to keep an eye on, probably right through draft night itself. The Knicks should theoretically have leverage-- the Blazers need to make a trade and the Knicks merely want to-- but there are also supposed to be other teams competing, and these are still the Knicks. I've come to like Papanikolaou (or at least the notion of him I've pieced together from videos, articles, and bits of hair) quite a bit, and I'm excited (if unsurprised) to see New York pursuing him anew.

Update: And, ya know, the Knicks might be in the market for a replacement bigshootingforwardman in the near future.

Update: As Zach Lowe points out, the Blazers have three second-rounders, so perhaps if the Knicks felt 39 + Papanikolaou wasn't enough for 24, they could push for an additional pick in return. (More interesting stuff about Copeland in there, too.)

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