DENVER- With the 2016-2017 season coming to an end, it’s only fair to discuss Denver Nuggets veteran Danilo Gallinari. Gallinari was traded to the Denver Nuggets on February 21, 2011 from the New York Knicks in a three team trade that involved the Minnesota Timberwolves and he arrived in the Mile High City just 2 days later.
Since arriving in Denver, Gallinari has suffered many injuries, the biggest being an ACL injury that forced him out of the last few weeks of the 2012-2013 season and the entire 2013-2014 season as well. The Italian has spent the last six years playing for the Nuggets in the regular season and then traveling to Italy to play for the Italian National team throughout the summer.
With all of that being said, Danilo Gallinari has a player option for the 2017-2018 season and it is widely believed that he will opt-out and choose to test free agency. Even GM Tim Connelly thinks that Gallinari opting out is a “safe bet.” Corban and I decided to discuss our thoughts on if the Rooster will choose to stay in Denver or exercise free agency.
I think Danilo Gallinari will move on, and hopefully he does. I know that isn’t going to sit too well with Denver but let me explain. Gallinari has played 6 seasons for the Denver Nuggets. He emerged as the mostly unexpected prize asset (along with Wilson Chandler) from the 2011 Carmelo Anthony trade. He has averaged 16.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists over his Denver career, he has delivered clutch play for the Nuggets over the years and is without a doubt a fan favorite. However he is also 28, has had to deal with multiple injury issues, and has never really stood out as the alpha dog of some rather mediocre Denver squads. In addition, he will be expecting a max contract; one that most assuredly will hamstrung the Nuggets cap space well into the future. Also the emergence of Nikola Jokic has made him expendable. Add to the that the number of teams that will be vying for his services (with the OKC Thunder being chief among them) and I do see Gallinari moving on to greener pastures next season. It won’t end bitterly, just a mutual agreement to move on. Danilo has given blood, sweat, and tears to this franchise and will always be respected up here in the Rockies. He is the poster child for the Nuggets post Melo; a team that scrapped and fought and worked for everything they got but ultimately fell short. Gallo, you’re beloved, but I feel it is time for a change.
My take is a little bit difference on this. I’ve been a big Gallo fan since he came to Denver and am not so quick to think that he would opt out. Gallinari is indeed a fan favorite in Denver and has been within the past 6 years that he’s been with the Nuggets.
In a Facebook live video on February 10, 2017, a fan commented and asked if he wanted to stay in Denver, to which Gallinari replied:
“Denver is my favorite city so hopefully I’ll be able to stay there. I’ve been there six years now. Unfortunately I know you but that’s the only thing that is not good about Denver,” Gallinari joked at the expense of Vic Lombardi. “I love the city. It’s the city I’m going to live when I’m done playing basketball so I love Denver and I hope that I can stay there.”
Gallinari has expressed on more than one occasion that in Spring of 2016 he was on the trading block and asked not to be traded. This is a city that he genuinely wants to be in and he loves his team, staff, and the fans of this great city.
Gallinari also expressed in another interview with Vic Lombardi that he wants to stay in Denver and finish out his career as a Denver Nugget.
“I would love to end my career in Denver. I would love to see when I’m older my jersey retired at the Pepsi Center. I would love all that. Is it going to happen? I hope so. I don’t know.”
While Corban thinks that Gallo is more expendable in the emergence of Nikola Jokic, I challenge that with this; Gallinari could have been traded in several instances, the most recent being at the 2017 trade deadline, but he wasn’t. Though he’s fought through some injury, Gallinari has been a powerhouse for the Nuggets and is having one of, if not the best seasons of his career. He’s averaging 17.9 points, 2.1 assists, and 5.1 rebounds in this 2016-2017 season.
Danilo has a $16.1 million dollar player option this summer but as aforementioned, it’s expected that he’ll decline and test free agency where he will most likely have many offers. If Gallinari chooses to stay with Denver, as Corban said earlier, he would most likely be asking for a max contract if the Nuggets were to resign him for the 2018-2019 season.
On Media Day of the 2015-2016 season after Gallo signed a two year extension with the Nuggets, this is what he had to say about his former contracts and the money that he’s making.
“I was just glad to stay in Denver. That was my goal. If you see my history with contracts, it’s never been about the money because if it was about the money I would have made other choices. I love Denver and I want to stay here as long as I can. I would like to finish my career here. I was glad we were able to sign this contract.”