It’s the end of an era here in Denver.
Danilo Galinari is officially on the move and headed to the Los Angeles Clippers in a three-team sign-and-trade that lands the Denver Nuggets a second round pick from the Atlanta Hawks. Gallinari joins Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan in an intriguing but somewhat unusual front court and will likely be competing for one of the final playoff spots out west.
Gallo was the centerpiece of the Carmelo Anthony trade and has been the face of the franchise from the trade all the way up until last season when Nikola Jokic broke out as a budding superstar.
As one chapter of Nuggets basketball comes to an end, the Stiffs look back at the Rooster and reflect on what he meant to the franchise and what his departure means for the Nuggets.
Gallo’s departure has felt imminent since the season ended but now that he’s gone, what is your initial feeling?
Gordon Gross (@GMoneyNuggs): You know that sense of satisfaction when you graduate from school and you know all your friends are going to go on to great things, but you’ll still miss the good times? It feels like that. Bittersweet. I’m happy for Gallo that he’s going to go where he wants (with Denver’s help, even) and I’m happy for the Nuggets that they’re in a good place even as he departs.
Ashley Douglas (@AshleyNBAHoops: Danilo Gallinari has long been one of my favorites. He's incredibly versatile, and his scoring abilities are such a weapon when he's in the right situation. However, it's seemed like there's been a little awkwardness with the Nuggets crowded roster in general. There are too many rotations, and too many talented young guys that perhaps Gallinari doesn’t completely fit anymore. Personally, I'm disappointed that he's no longer a Nugget, but I'm also hopeful to see how the Nuggets evolve with Paul Millsap and how Gallinari can fit with the Clippers.
Kayla Osby (@nuggetchica): My initial feeling was one of sadness. It didn’t help that Gallinari has been very vocal about his love for the city and the team in the past, even going as far as to say he wants to retire here. When players are outspoken about their love for the Nuggets, it usually makes me develop a soft spot for them, no matter who the player is. And Gallinari was obviously the face of this franchise for a long time, so it’s hard to see us move on from him. But I understand that this was probably going to happen eventually anyway, especially when the team has so many young players that they want to try and mold. Still...it’s the Rooster and I’m sad to see him go.
Ryan Blackburn (@RyanBlackburn9): I was disappointed that Gallo and the Nuggets couldn’t work out a deal that kept him in Denver for at least another two years. It would have been hard for the Nuggets to give him a proper payday with Paul Millsap in the fold, and Gallo wasn’t going to give the Nuggets another discount this time around. Gallo did right by Gallo this time around, and the Nuggets helped him get to where he wanted to go with the Clippers. It’s the first time in a while that the Nuggets had to prioritize getting better as a team over some of the relationships they have forged with players, so while it’s sad that Gallo has to leave, it’s encouraging that the team is looking to move upward and forward.
Adam Mares (@Adam_Mares): I was bummed to see him go, even though I think it was time for him to move on. Gallo will have a mixed legacy here in Denver. He represented both the best of Nuggets fanhood and some of the classic lows of NuggLife. I wish the Nuggets were better for the second half of his tenure here, but I’ll choose to remember him for those early runs in the first years of his time in Denver.
How will Gallo be remembered as a Denver Nugget?
Gross: As the What-If for this generation of Nuggets fans. His talent was as undeniable as his health was unreliable. His per-minute numbers were great - he just could not play enough minutes. That catastrophic knee injury derailed a contender, led to front office change and a coaching carousel, and helped create the dynasty of the Golden State Warriors. Gallinari changed the West - just not in the way he’d hoped to when he arrived in Denver.
Douglas: Gallinari was a crucial part of the Nuggets roster during a really fun time for the team. The Pepsi Center had pretty good attendance at the time, and you could really feel the excitement from the fans. His knee injury at the end of the last good season the Nuggets had was heartbreaking, and so I think there will always be a curiosity about what might have been if he had remained healthy. However, I think he will be one of those players that the Nuggets will fondly remember for a long time. He’s leaving on good terms so the city can feel good about his contribution while he was with us, but I think last season it got to the point where the Nuggets were holding Gallinari back, and he was holding them back because it no longer fit. Sometimes it’s important to recognize when you’ve gotten the best out of a situation, quit trying to make it what it used to be, and move forward. They both made the right move at the right time.
Osby: I think he will be remembered as the face of the franchise during the bridge between two eras. He immediately replaced Carmelo Anthony as the face of the franchise after that trade, and this is just my biased opinion, but I think he was great in that role, not only because of what he did on the court but also off the court. As Gordon and Ashley said, I think there also be a lot of “what ifs?” when Nuggets fans remember Gallinari, since he did struggle so much with injuries while he was here. Still, I’ll remember him as the player that allowed me to be excited about the future of the team, and not just depressed, after the Carmelo Anthony trade.
Blackburn: His name will unfairly be attached to Carmelo Anthony’s name for the entirety of his Denver legacy, but Gallinari forged his own legacy in Denver. The herky, jerky 22-year-old Italian that joined the Nuggets in 2011 evolved into one of the smoothest scorers in Denver’s history. Gallo changed his game to evolve with the current NBA, and he became one of the most efficient offensive players on the planet during his last two seasons in Denver. From the smooth game-winners to the deep threes to the surprisingly vicious dunks throughout his career, Gallo will be remembered as one of the most versatile offensive players in Denver’s storied history.
Mares: Probably as a player not quite good enough to be the number one option on a team but a guy that was thrown into that role anyway. And also as a guy that was injured. But despite Gallo being just a rung below a star, I think he’ll mostly be remembered fondly.
What is your favorite memory of Gallo?
Gross: There are so many. For a guy who made his name on offense, though, I have to love him stripping Steph Curry in the final seconds and diving on the floor to start the last-second fastbreak against the Warriors. Gallo always wanted to win.
Douglas: For me, Gallinari’s crazy trick shots under the rim were always so fun. The “"and one” plays are awesome no matter what, but when he made the basket in an awkward way leaving us all in suspense for a moment until the ball finally went in was so exciting. I haven’t seen him do that in a long time, and those aren’t the quality shots coaches want to see a player take, but they sure were cool.
Osby: I will miss all of the crazy, unbelievable plays that Gallinari made, and then the awesome celebrations to follow. A few come to mind, but one of the most clutch shots he made as a Nugget, interestingly enough, came against the Atlanta Hawks. One of the reasons I love Gallo is when he made a very timely play like this, it usually was not just a simple shot, but an incredibly difficult and amazing-looking shot. He was the go-to guy in clutch situations for a long time, and I’ll miss that.
Blackburn: My favorite memory of Gallinari was one of his forgotten moments during the 2012-13 season against the Boston Celtics. The Nuggets were in Boston and the game went into triple overtime. Gallo played 49 minutes, and while he only had 18 points on 20 shots, he made some incredibly tough shots, including one over Kevin Garnett that touched the rafters. The Nuggets ended up losing that game, but it was classic Gallo and showed how close he was to taking the next step as an All-Star, even though he never did.
Mares: I wrote this question and I don’t have an answer. The steal on Curry two seasons ago was fun, as was the career-high game two seasons ago against Dallas. Mostly, I’ll just remember how fun and unexpected that 2013 team was and he was the leader of it all.
Where do you want the Nuggets to go from here now that Gallo is gone?
Gross: To a championship, obviously. I want Denver to grow its 23-and-under talent into lynchpins while they season them in some postseason runs over the next couple of years. If the Nuggets have to climb over Gallinari and the Clippers to do it, that’s fine. Of course, Nugglife rules would indicate that it will go the other way, but maybe Jokic is finally the rule-breaker Denver has needed all along. Now that Gallo has handed the baton to the Serbian, Nuggets fans hope he can take the team to heights that the Rooster, for all his talent and desire, could never quite capture.
Douglas: I would like to see the Nuggets really focus on honing their identity, and get serious about winning. They need to decide who is filling what role, and have those players commit to filling that role. I'd also like to see the Nuggets get a little more aggressive with their decision making. Landing Millsap shows that they're at least somewhat ready to be a contender, and letting Gallinari move on shows maturity. It's time to get to work and thank the Nuggets fans for their loyalty through some hard and frustrating times.
Osby: I want the Nuggets to just continue building a team around Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Gary Harris. It’s going to be really hard, for me at least, to say goodbye to players like Kenneth Faried, Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler, but I know that will probably happen eventually. What makes it a lot easier to deal with is knowing that the team is in great hands with the young players. They’re all extremely likable, and also give the team a great shot to be really successful in the near future. As long as the Nuggets’ organization remembers that, I think they’ll continue leading the team in a good direction.
Blackburn: I think the Nuggets are going the way they should at this point. They found an upgrade in Paul Millsap who affects Nikola Jokic more positively than Gallo ever will. Other than that, they should continue to consolidate assets and look for good values on players with top end talent. Defense should continue to be a priority, and finding another two-way forward should be at the top of the list. Above all though, Nikola Jokic needs to take the next step as an alpha dog scorer, a role the Nuggets need to replace now that Gallinari is gone.
Mares: I’m not sure there is any one move out there that I love. First and foremost, Denver needs to move some of their power forwards. Upgrades at shooting guard and point guard are needed but I’m not sure there are any names out there that I love. So I think Denver just needs to consolidate the front court, bring back Plumlee on his qualifying offer, and work hard toward internal improvements from Beasley, Juancho, Murray, and Mudiay.
Let us know your favorite memory of Gallo in the comments and whether or not you feel like Gallo’s departure marks the end of an era.