Papanikolaou's deal is for two years and worth $4.8 million this season, according to the Houston Chronicle. The first-year salary is the highest ever for a player selected in the second round of the NBA draft.
The 24-year-old was taken by the New York Knicks in the 2012 NBA draft, and the Rockets acquired his rights from the Portland Trail Blazers in 2013. Papanikolaou played for FC Barcelona Basquet last season and averaged 6.9 points in 25 minutes per game. He has won two Euroleague titles.
He also played for Greece during the 2014 FIBA World Cup, averaging 6.3 points and 2.3 rebounds per game.
Papanikolaou will sign his contract next week once his buyout with Barcelona is completed.
“I don’t like to say big things, but I’m here to work and get as better as I can,” Papanikolaou said. “I don’t like to say I’m a scorer or a rebounder; I try to do everything that I can in each game, play tough first of all and bring my energy and give my team whatever they need.
“Everything the team needs is what I try to give them. I really enjoy when the team is happy. Everybody is happy when the team is winning.”
Houston opens training camp next week.
- Paul Palladino