The Nuggets have two cores. Their young core, with Emmanuel Mudiay, Gary Harris, Nikola Jokic, Jusuf Nurkic, Jamal Murray and Juancho Hernangomez, is full of potential, skill, and upside. Their veteran core, with Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler, Jameer Nelson, and Will Barton is ready to compete now, but lacks a star player.
Of that second group, Gallinari is the best player among them. Gallo took an extension last summer to keep him in Denver longer… but he has an early termination option for next summer, which most likely makes him an expiring contract. Gallinari was visibly frustrated with the Denver youngsters last season, and often was tasked with/opted to take the offense on his shoulders. Gallo averaged the 10th most isolation possessions per game last season.
However, Gallo insists that his frustration has not led to a desire to escape the Rocky Mountain front range. In an interview with the Italian press at a press conference regarding a partnership between the NBA and Uni Banca, Gallo claimed that he declined to be traded last season. Transcript via Denver Stiffs:
In Denver I am very well, there was a chance last year to go to some other team before the deadline in February, but I refused. If I return to Italy, it would be back to Olympia but with the intention of winning, I don’t like the idea of nostalgic revisiting
Gallo was mentioned in a handful of trade rumors last year, most notably with the Boston Celtics. However, sources close to the situation tell CBS Sports that no deal was in place for Gallo to decline.
The bigger story in this is about how Gallinari feels about Denver and the Nuggets. For a city that has really struggled to create appeal for NBA players, between Gallinari’s feelings and the fact that players like Jameer Nelson, Mike Miller, and Darrell Arthur have elected to stick with the franchise. Here’s what Gallinari went on to say at the press conference about Denver:
“I’ve been in the United States for eight years, this will be my ninth season in NBA, I consider myself fortunate to have realized the dream of all children who play basketball. Now my goal is to win something in Denver, I’ve played there for five years now and I love it. I am very well and I hope to win with the Nuggets. Although “Super Teams” are now fashionable such as Golden State and Cleveland, to win in Denver this season will be very difficult for everyone.”
This is the epitome of what coaches call “summer talk.” Everyone loves their team and situation in the summer, everyone’s optimistic about the upcoming season. But given the direction of the Nuggets, more and more driven by the team’s future with the young players, trading him makes more sense for both Gallinari and the team.
Denver’s opening schedule is brutal; they’re likely to be chasing .500 into at least January even if things go well. If that’s the case, the team might look to move him to get the most in return before he leaves. This is where that termination option becomes a problem.
Expiring contracts are nearly worthless in the modern NBA after the last CBA with so much moving cash thanks to smaller contracts and more cap space thanks to the media money influx. Gallinari’s best value was at the draft, with a full other year on his deal.
Even then, however, that ignores a key element in this. The Nuggets’ front office is trying to build relationships with veterans as an organization that takes care of its guys. So as long as Gallo wants to be in Denver, he’s likely to be. It would take a monster deal they couldn’t refuse (which is unlikely to come early in the season) to get them to make such a move. For at least the short term, Gallinari should be considered off the market.
Source: CBS Sports / For at least the short term, Danilo Gallinari is off the trade market