April 4th, 2013
You can make the argument that, along with the Denver Nuggets dashed playoff run hopes, that date marks a significant change in history for than just a single player. Indeed it altered the course of an entire franchise. That player has not been the same player since and quite frankly neither has the team.
Danilo Gallinari’s ACL injury against the Dallas Mavericks that day still reverberates in every subsequent action that has happened since. From the Nuggets flameout against the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs (who doesn’t think Gallo would have SIGNIFICANTLY helped the Nuggets that series?) to the ensuing departures of Masai Ujiri and head coach George Karl. To the ill fated and poorly staffed Brian Shaw regime that missed Gallo for an entire year. To the Michael Malone era and it’s rookies.
Everything goes back to that date. Everything. As Nuggets fans we cannot escape that moment and how it fundamentally changed this franchise forever. Gallo was that good in 2013 and a heavy bit of revisionist history has gone on to make it seem otherwise. Gallo’s busted ACL busted the Nuggets.
It also brought into focus the inherent quandary that is The Rooster. He is undoubtedly talented. Despite looking awkward he has a sometimes great one on one scoring game. He also, without question, makes the team better offensively and, indeed, makes the offensive side of the ball BETTER.
Gallo can get his own shot, and has actually improved his three point shooting to the best it’s been since his rookie year (where he only played a quarter of a season). He and Nikola Jokic, after a rocky start, began to find a somewhat harmonious existence. 18.2 pts and 5.3 rebounds a game in 63 games. Gallo nearly shot a career high in field goal percentage (44.7% vs 44.8% his rookie year). 44% Field goal percentage and 38% three point percentage is really .... realllly good.
On the flip side Gallo, since about 2014, has been slow and passive on defense. Sometimes his effort on that end has been questioned. He is not the quick, explosive player he was from 2008-13. Just take a look at these highlights from Gallo in his second game in a Nuggets uniform. (be sure and turn down your volume. Very LOUD)
Then compare that to highlights from this last season with a much slower, more deliberate, more awkward Gallo. He still runs, but it’s like he’s been tied with an anchor behind him
It’s subtle, but it’s there. Injuries have taken a massive toll on Gallo’s body and it shows. He is slow to close on the perimeter and often doesn’t put up his hand. (pre-acl Gallo was one of the Nuggets better defenders).
The tendency to over-isolate is still there (remnant of last season when he had to carry a starting roster that featured three players under 21) and it seems like at times he’s on "Gallo Island" apart from everyone else. He isn’t a cutter (not fast enough) and that is where newly crowned best player Nikola Jokic makes most of his hay.
Games Gallo has played since 2014
Lets be honest ... with all of Gallo’s assets and obvious faults, THIS is what will affect his future contract more than anything.
To put this into perspective, the narrative that Danilo Gallinari needs to get "in line" with Nikola Jokic is complete rubbish and always has been. The Nuggets functioned just fine with their mutual offensive dynamic. Both Jokic and Gallo have some serious defensive flaws but together, offensively, they are deadly even with their seemingly opposite styles. People in the league wont see this as a problem and it’s been overstated throughout the whole season.
Gallo’s problem is his body, his injuries, his constant trips to the injured list, his sitting out for knee bruises. These things will affect what he, other teams in the league and the Nuggets decide this offseason more than anything else. Not his age, not his compatibility with Jokic, not anything like that. Injuries, games he has played. Period.
And this is a problem for Gallo. If I’m the Denver Nuggets ... why would I give him 20-22 million if he’s only going to play at most 65 games a year? On the flip side if you are Gallo and his agent, if a team on the market values you at 20-22 million why don’t you take the money and run ... even though Gallo likes Denver. Why wouldn’t Gallo take the money?
There is where the rubber meets the road. How much does Gallo like Denver, and how much would the Nuggets want to pay for someone who will play only 3⁄4 of the season? Where do these two desires meet? Do they meet at all? Do they meet when he explores unrestricted free agency?
Make no mistake, Gallo LOVES Denver. It’s genuine. This is his home, he has friends here, no one bothers him and he can comfortably reside without the problems of living in an east coast or west coast city. He likes the people, his family likes Denver. Gallo is supremely at ease in the city and I have zero doubt in my mind that he is not lying in the slightest when he expresses his desire to live in the city.
Does that override his free agent well-being? You don’t get the opportunity to be an unrestricted free agent very often. If you’re Gallo do you want to take advantage of that market or do you want to stay and work where you are comfortable at a price less than what the market could potentially bring?
Gallo loves Denver ... but are his interests considering his injury history compatible with the Nuggets own desires?
In an interview on "Blitz TV" Gallo stated this (translation courtesy of Sportando):
"The relationship between me, the city and the organization is great. This is the reason why I would love to reach an agreement to remain in Denver. I love it here. And I would love to remain with the Nuggets" Gallinari said.
Here is the entire interview:
(our intrepid Italian Stiffs could translate the whole thing maybe?)
I have one question for you Gallo. One question only:
How much do you love Denver?