Nuggets Forward Danilo Gallinari Has Contract Decision to Make
By Christopher Dempsey, Altitude Sports
Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari didn’t fully commit to opting out of the final year of his current contract, when talking about his summer with media on Thursday, but odds are he will.
Gallinari did, however, talk a bit about potentially going through the free agency process, something he says he’s never experienced in his nine-year NBA career. Even if he does opt out, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s leaving the Nuggets, just that he’ll be an unrestricted free agent with the ability to choose whatever team he wants.
“Everything is going to be put on the plate to make a decision,” Gallinari said. “Honestly, even though I’m a little frustrated, I’m a positive guy. I’m very optimistic… and you can see a lot of positive this year. The fact that we won more games. The fact that we lost a lot of games in the last possession. If you win just 50 percent of those games we’re not even talking about playoffs; we’re talking about being fourth, fifth, sixth seed in the West. So, a lot of positive things happened this year, so we’ll see.”
Gallinari, and Wilson Chandler, are the longest-tenured Nuggets, both coming to the team in the 2011 Carmelo Anthony trade with the Knicks. In the last two seasons, Gallinari has led the team in scoring. This season, he averaged 18.2 points, second-highest in his career. His 4.5 rebounds per game were the highest average of his career. His shooting percentages – 44.7 from the field and 38.8 from the 3-point line – were the second-highest averages of his career.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone was asked if he had a gut feel for what might happen with Gallinari.
“I had a great meeting with him (Thursday) morning,” Malone said. “This is the first time for him, if he decides to opt out, that he’ll be a free agent. I think for players like him that’s always kind of a neat, after nine years, experience to go through. Okay, what’s out there? It’s a brave new world out there. I do know he’s got a great affinity, number one, for the city. He has a great affinity for the people in this organization. I’ve enjoyed coaching him, we have a very good relationship. So, it’s tough to say.”
Gallinari is scheduled to make over $16 million next season if he picks up the final year of his deal. He said money will not be the leading factor in a potential decision.
“If you guys have followed my history, my contract history, my NBA career has never been about money,” Gallinari said. “So that’s something that you guys know. The decision is not going to be made about money, it’s going to be more on the team situation.”
Gallinari expressed love for the Mile High City.
“As you guys know, it’s tough for me to leave Denver,” he said. “This is my city. I love this city. I have a house here. After my career is over, Denver is going to be my city. So, it’s very tough for me to (potentially) leave. We’ll see.”
Malone was matter-of-fact about Gallo’s upcoming decision.
“He put himself in a great position,” Malone said. “He had a tremendous season. If you look at his stats and break down his numbers, how efficient he was. There will be a lot of interest in Gallo if he decides to opt out, and rightfully so. What makes me comfortable is the relationship I have with him and how much he loves this city and loves the organization. But at the end, he’s going to do what’s best for he and his family, and I have nothing but respect for that."
Christopher Dempsey: email@example.com and Twitter: @chrisadempse