At age 32, Danilo Gallinari is coming off a season where he could've very well earned the last big payday of his career.
Gallinari has been plagued by injuries for much of his career but this past season showed durability with the Oklahoma City Thunder, posting averages of 18.7 points and 5.2 rebounds over 62 games on 40.5 percent shooting from 3-point range. Gallo would be a sought-after free agent under normal circumstances but in a thin free-agent class he stands out as a big-time difference-maker.
But making dollars isn't what's on Gallo's mind. He wants to compete and win a ring. When asked by Sportando if he thought playing for an NBA title was more important than a big-money contract, Gallinari responded: "Yes. At this time, yes. I'm not 20 anymore."
With the Thunder expected to rebuild that could mean that the sixth pick in the 2008 NBA Draft will be looking for a new home.
A player with Gallinari's skillset could realistically fit on any team in the NBA, but if he truly wants a chance at winning a title, there are only a handful of spots that make sense money-wise and fit-wise. Could he fit next to Zion Williamson in New Orleans? Sure, but is that pairing going to be good enough to bring home a title? No.
With that in mind, here are a couple of spots where Gallinari could fit.
If Gallinari is serious about joining a potential contender for less money, the Mavs might be a good option.
Dallas should be able to offer the full Mid-Level Exception, per Hoops Rumors, which might be good enough compensation for Gallo to join Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis.
With an eye set on 2021, the Mavericks might only offer Gallinari a one-year contract. It would give both parties the flexibility for the 2021 offseason, something most teams in the NBA are hoping for and something Gallo might want to keep in his back pocket with an eye on the league's financials stabilizing.
On the court, Gallinari would join a team that had one of the best offences in league history last season. He could replace Dorian Finney-Smith in the starting lineup and play alongside Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr., Porzingis and a healthy Dwight Powell comfortably. There might be some questions defensively but that lineup would be pretty explosive on the other end.
Gallinari would also give the Mavs another playmaker to take some of the workload off Doncic's plate.
Like the Mavericks, the Raptors could have the full Mid-Level Exception to use on Gallinari but only if they can't retain some of their key free agents.
We know priority No. 1 in Toronto is locking up Fred VanVleet, but if there's a snag with Serge Ibaka or Marc Gasol, that could open up the door for a player like Gallinari.
The Raptors lacked halfcourt offence at times in the playoffs and adding an offensive weapon like Gallo could certainly help there. Gallinari also already has a history with Raptors President Masai Ujiri, as it was Ujiri who traded for a package centred around Gallo in the blockbuster deal in 2011 that sent Carmelo Anthony home to New York.
A lot would have to fall into place for this to be a realistic option, but it could make sense for both parties. It would also give Toronto the ammo to compete for what is setting up to be a very tough Eastern Conference next season.
Like the Raptors scenario, the door might open for Gallinari by way of a full MLE if the Clippers lose Montrezl Harrell or Marcus Morris in free agency, thus a chance for Gallo to rejoin the team that traded him away last season.
Gallo would easily fit right in as a starter on the team replacing Moe Harkless (who started most games at forward before being moved to New York) or Morris in that role. With Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Patrick Beverley willing to take on the tough defensive assignments, the pressure wouldn't be on him to perform on that end of the floor.
Offensively, Gallinari would provide better floor spacing than Morris and JaMychal Green, and he could also alleviate some of the playmaking responsibilities from Kawhi and PG13.
It's a dream that likely wouldn't happen but it would be a clean fit on the floor.
Miami Heat - The Heat already tried to add Gallinari at the trade deadline but the deal fell through at the last minute and it actually might have worked out better for the Heat.
There's no doubt that the Heat's offence would have benefited from Gallo's presence but it was their defence that powered them to the NBA Finals this year. It's likely Miami might stick with what it has rather than chase the sharpshooter.
Los Angeles Lakers - Ah yes, the defending champs have a chance to get even better this offseason, but it will take players like Gallinari taking a pay cut to do so.
Most of the Lakers' current potential free agents will likely want to return to LA and run it back next season. If that happens, Gallo probably won't be an option, but playing with LeBron James and Anthony Davis would be a dream for a shooter like Gallo.
Golden State Warriors - Like the Lakers, the Dubs would have to get creative to add Gallo and they'd also have to hope he's willing to take a lot less than he'd typically be able to command on the open market.
But if Gallo is serious about winning a championship, this may be the place for him. A motivated Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green; a team that he can fit right into and not have to change or sacrifice his game much, if at all. The Warriors might fit Gallo like a glove.
Milwaukee Bucks - According to The Athletic's John Hollinger, the Bucks either keep Ersan Ilyasova or use their full mid-level exception. If they have a full MLE, they could use it on Gallo.
Gallinari wants to win, the Bucks want to win. It could be a match.
Phoenix Suns - I personally would be shocked if Gallo lands with the Suns, but these - as we all know - are unprecedented times. The Suns have more money than most good teams to offer to Gallinari and they came close to getting to the playoffs in the bubble. They aren't quite a championships contender but Gallo could turn them into a serious playoff team.
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