Is Danilo Gallinari Still Part of Denver Nuggets' Future?

Nick JuskewyczContributor IIIJanuary 31, 2014

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 12: Danilo Gallinari #8 of the Denver Nuggets poses for a video shoot on October 12, 2013 at the Millennium Bridge in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

Should the Denver Nuggets start making long-term plans that don't involve Danilo Gallinari?

Gallinari went down with a torn meniscus and ACL injury on April 4 last year. This caused him to miss the rest of the season and delay his return for 2013-14.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Gallinari had surgery to repair the torn meniscus shortly after the injury. However, he didn't have reconstruction performed on his ACL because a doctor thought it could heal through a different approach called, "Healing Response." 

But after months of rehabbing, according to Nuggets.com, General Manager Tim Connelly had bad news for Denver on Jan 21.

It was recently determined that the procedure that Danilo underwent on his knee this past summer was insufficient. Danilo’s knee required that he undergo reconstruction of the ACL, which was successfully completed earlier this morning. Knowing Danilo’s drive and work ethic, we look forward to a full recovery and a healthy return to the court next season.

It's unclear if Gallinari will be ready for the start of 2014-15 training camp, but Wojnarowski did report that he should be ready sometime in the early part of the season.

Still, the different technique didn't work and the Nuggets are paying the price. According to HoopsHype.com, Gallinari is making just over 10.1 million this season and his contract runs through 2015-16 where he makes a little more than 11.5 million.

At least from a financial perspective, the NBA is paying Denver 50 percent of Gallinari's base salary per game each time Gallo doesn't suit up, according to Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. This insurance policy gives the Nuggets approximately $61,800 for every absence.

Given the Nuggets' depth, they still want to change their style of play down the road and they likely need to make a trade some point soon, there's reasoning to think Gallinari may not have a future in Denver.

But he should.

 

What Gallinari Brings to the Table

DENVER, CO - MARCH 07:  Danilo Gallinari #8 of the Denver Nuggets controls the ball against Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers at the Pepsi Center on March 7, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Clippers 107-92. NOTE TO USER: Use
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

First and foremost, while Gallinari would be playing in his sixth NBA season right now if he were healthy, it's important to note that he's only 25 years old. Despite this not being his first injury in his NBA career, he likely has many solid years ahead of him.

Since his rookie season, Gallo is putting up 15.4 points and 4.9 rebounds in 33.1 minutes. He's coming off a 2012-13 campaign of a career-best 16.2 points to go with 5.2 rebounds in 32.5 minutes.

While these aren't the greatest numbers, Gallinari's player-efficiency rating has increased each season of his career.

Danilo Gallinari's Stats
YearTeamMinutesPERUsage %
2008-09NYK14.713.416.0
2009-10NYK33.914.819.3
2010-11NYK/DEN33.915.718.9
2011-12DEN31.416.520.7
2012-13DEN32.516.721.3
Basketball-Reference.com

(Usage percentage is an estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player while he was on the floor.)

That's not too shabby for a young player who has been in two different situations. Gallinari was involved on the opposite side of the Carmelo Anthony trade between the New York Knicks and the Nuggets.

Both the Knicks and Nuggets teams Gallo played on went at a fast pace, but New York was an absolute mess and had him at power forward a fair amount of the time. Denver has always been a deep team, making the playoffs and playing Gallinari mostly at the 3.

But what makes him so effective is his diversity.

In just those 10 plays, we are reminded how valuable a 6'10" small forward who can run the floor really is. Gallo has explosiveness, can finish at the rim and show off his creativity at times.  

But it's not just acrobatic highlights for the Italian star.


This is a solid taste of how great Gallinari is on the perimeter. With a dangerous height while attacking the basket, he's also a three-point threat off the pass and the dribble.

Gallo also knows how to be aggressive and get to the free-throw line, especially in a big road game against his former team.

Gallinari is 84.4 percent from the line in his career, which is significant since he's taken 5.4 attempts in his last three seasons. Furthermore, he would really help Denver's horrific free-throw shooting at 73 percent.  

Lastly, he creates matchup problems.

Gallo scores off the pick-and-pop, while picking up the assist in the pick-and-roll. He takes advantage of small forwards in the post and uses his quickness to get around the power forwards.

 

Gallinari Fits in with What Brian Shaw Is Trying to Bring to Denver

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 09:  Head coach Brian Shaw of the Denver Nuggets leads his team against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Pepsi Center on January 9, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Thunder 101-88. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledg
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

When Brian Shaw was hired to be the Nuggets head coach, we knew there were going to be some philosophy changes.

As reported by Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post at the beginning of training camp on Oct. 2, here's what those adjustments intended to be, according to Shaw.

The style of play ... is going to be a little different than what it has been around here for the past few years. We do still want to take advantage of getting up and down the floor and take advantage of the climate and the altitude. But, with that being said, the teams I've been associated both as a player and as a coach have had success establishing a presence inside, executing in half court and having a defensive identity, as well as being a good rebounding team.

The Nuggets haven't exactly been doing those things since Shaw turned up the tempo in the last month.


DENVER, CO - JANUARY 9:  Ty Lawson #3 of the Denver Nuggets and Danilo Gallinari #8 of the Denver Nuggets celebrate during the game between the Orlando Magic and the Denver Nuggets on January 9, 2013 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER:
Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

Should the Denver Nuggets start making long-term plans that don't involve Danilo Gallinari?

Gallinari went down with a torn meniscus and ACL injury on April 4 last year. This caused him to miss the rest of the season and delay his return for 2013-14.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Gallinari had surgery to repair the torn meniscus shortly after the injury. However, he didn't have reconstruction performed on his ACL, because a doctor thought it could heal through a different approach called, "Healing Response." 

But after months of rehabbing, according to Nuggets.com, General Manager Tim Connelly had bad news for Denver on Jan 21.

It was recently determined that the procedure that Danilo underwent on his knee this past summer was insufficient. Danilo’s knee required that he undergo reconstruction of the ACL, which was successfully completed earlier this morning. Knowing Danilo’s drive and work ethic, we look forward to a full recovery and a healthy return to the court next season.

It's unclear if Gallinari will be ready for the start of 2014-15 training camp, but Wojnarowski did report that he should be ready sometime in the early part of the season.

Still, the different technique didn't work and the Nuggets are paying the price. According to HoopsHype.com, Gallinari is making just over 10.1 million this season and his contract runs through 2015-16 where he makes a little more than 11.5 million.

At least from a financial perspective, the NBA is paying Denver 50 percent of Gallinari's base salary per game each time Gallo doesn't suit up, according to Christopher Dempsey of The Denver PostThis insurance policy gives the Nuggets approximately $61,800 for every absence.

Given the Nuggets' depth, they still want to change their style of play down the road and they likely need to make a trade some point soon, there's reasoning to think Gallinari may not have a future in Denver.

But he should.

 

Don't Trade Your Second-Best Player

Ranking the Denver players can easily be debated, but for the previous reasons mentioned, I believe Gallinari would be the second-best player on this Nuggets squad. Furthermore, had he not suffered his injury last season, the Nuggets might have at least made it to the second round of the playoffs and George Karl might still be on the Denver sideline.

Nonetheless, with Shaw trying to condense his rotation, it makes sense for the Nuggets to get value for their depth and receive an All-Star caliber player next to Ty Lawson. Denver needs to make a trade to contend in the Western Conference.  

But that missing piece comes at power forward or center.

The Nuggets have been punished inside all season. Several examples from earlier this season are well documented here, or more recently, we observed Al Jefferson's 35 points with 11 rebounds and LaMarcus Aldridge's 44 points with 13 boards.

As the Nuggets move toward a more balanced offense, we know McGee and Kenneth Faried are still a work in progress with their half-court games and defense. They make incredible plays with their high-flying dunks and absurdly awesome rejections, but they have a lot of fundamentals to improve on.

With Timofey Mozgov's emergence,  it makes him perhaps the most well-rounded big man on the team—there's a big rotation question when McGee is healthy. In terms of money and length, he has a very similar contract to Gallinari, according to HoopsHype.com. 

Andre Miller has also been on the trade market since his dispute with Shaw over his first DNP from a coach's decision, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Wojnarowski also reported that Faried is a popular name in trade discussions, despite Denver's previous lack of interest in shipping him anywhere.

Depending on the type of trade, I'd like to see the Nuggets package one of their big men, Miller and another player or two (maybe a future draft pick) to land a guy who can play on both ends of the floor. This plans for the future, addresses one of Denver's weaknesses and improves its potentially shortened rotation.

Losing a dynamic Gallinari takes too much away from the team. The Nuggets need his consistency and that's the last thing they've had this season.

Denver must keep him.

 

(All statistics are from Basketball-Reference.com)