- Last week, the Sacramento Kings waived Georgios Papagiannis less than two years after taking him 13th in the draft.
- According to a report, the Kings tried to trade Papagiannis at the trade deadline but the Cleveland Cavaliers and Utah Jazz refused to take him.
- It’s rare to see teams refuse to take on young players who were lottery picks.
In the 2016 NBA Draft, the Sacramento Kings surprised the NBA world when they took Greek center Georgios Papagiannis with the 13th pick.
Papagiannis had not been a frequently mentioned name leading up to the draft. In fact, from the sounds of it, few people even knew who he was.
“There were people in the league who were literally like, ‘Did they say the wrong name? Did they mean somebody else?'” ESPN’s Zach Lowe said on his podcast, “The Lowe Post”, of Papagiannis’ draft selection.
Unfortunately, the Papagiannis era did not last long. At the trade deadline last Thursday, the Kings waived Papagiannis. In 38 career games, he averaged 4 points and 3 rebounds per game.
Making the selection look even worse, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Kings were trying to push Papagiannis into a three-team trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Utah Jazz and could not get anyone to take him.
The Cavaliers wanted to acquire Rodney Hood from the Jazz and George Hill from the Kings, while sending Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose to the Jazz and Iman Shumpert to the Kings.
According to Wojnarowski, the Jazz and Cavs were both angry when they felt they had the parameters of the trade worked out and then the Kings sent a trade deal memo that included Papagiannis. The Kings insisted to ESPN that Papagiannis was always part of the deal.
Wrote Wojnarowski, “Because Sacramento had the makings for a trade with Toronto for [Malaki] Richardson, rival executives say that the Kings pushed to spare themselves the embarrassment of waiving the No. 13 overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft – and let someone else do it.”
Both the Jazz and the Cavs insisted Papagiannis not be included in the deal. Part of that was for financial reasons, as Wojnarowski said – Papagiannis’ $2.3 million salary this year and $2.4 million salary next year would have cost the Cavs much more in tax penalties. The Jazz simply were not interested in a “7-foot draft bust,” as Wojnarowski wrote.
According to Wojnarowski, the three teams eventually worked out a deal – the Cavs and Jazz would finance the remaining money on Papagiannis’ salary to the Kings to get the deal done. The deal was finished and the Kings waived Papagiannis, but will still be paying him next season.
It’s rare to see teams go to such lengths to avoid taking a second-year player who was a lottery pick. This season has seen two NBA teams in the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks take gambles on former lottery picks – Jahlil Okafor and Emmanuel Mudiay, respectively – in order to acquire young, cheap talent. The Kings, meanwhile, could not get teams to take Papagiannis.
It’s unclear if Papagiannis has a future in the NBA. For the Kings, investing money into a player they decided to cut after two years is a brutal return.