Celtics Linked to Elite Three-Point Scorer as MLE Target

Danilo Gallinari

Getty Danilo Gallinari #8 of the Atlanta Hawks.

Because the Boston Celtics are projected to go over the luxury tax threshold, they will be permitted to use the projected $6.3 million taxpayer mid-level exception. Jay King of The Athletic listed 12 players who the Celtics could target with that mid-level exception this offseason. One of the top options of the 12 that King lists is Danilo Gallinari.

As of June 28, 2022, Gallinari is not a free agent, but the last year of his contract is only partially guaranteed for $4.5 million. King points out that, should Atlanta choose to waive him this summer, the Celtics should target Gallinari for his abilities as a three-point shooter.

At least for the time being, Gallinari remains under contract to the Atlanta Hawks. Still, only $4.5 million of his $21.5 million deal is guaranteed. If the Hawks decide to waive him, he would immediately become one of the most established scorers on the market. Though he will turn 34 before the season starts and had defensive limitations even in his prime, he has shot better than 40 percent on 3-pointers in three of the last four seasons. Defenses need to key in on him.

During the 2021-22 regular season, the Celtics shot 35.6 percent from three, which was good for 14th among NBA teams. That shot up to 37.3 percent in the playoffs, which was good for fifth among those who qualified for the playoffs.

No matter where they would finish in the three-point shooting department, Gallinari’s history of dependable shooting from distance shows that he would help the Celtics out there.

Gallinari Could Be in Decline

King later points out that Gallinari posted his lowest scoring average since his first year in the league with the New York Knicks and that his defensive issues and old age may not go well with Boston’s young core.

Gallinari’s impact has begun to dim. He averaged 11.7 points per game last season, the lowest mark of his career with the exception of his rookie season in 2008-09. He’s not exactly on par with all of the plus defenders in Boston’s rotation. He also plays power forward, where the Celtics should feel comfortable with Grant Williams backing up Al Horford. And Boston’s ideal free-agent target would be younger to have a chance of growing with the core. So it wouldn’t be a perfect fit.

King later adds that in spite of Gallinari’s flaws, he is someone who the Celtics should target because of what he would bring offensively to the team.

Gallinari’s still worth a spot near the top of this list if he hits free agency.

Even if he does, the timing could make a pursuit difficult for any team, especially one with limited resources. This could be a long shot for a number of reasons, but Gallinari would give Boston’s offense some juice.

Gallinari Could Be Traded Soon

Zach Klein of WSB-TV Atlanta reported that many believed the Hawks were on the verge of sending Gallinari, along with multiple first-round picks, to the San Antonio Spurs for Dejounte Murray.

Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report later confirmed Klein’s report while adding that there have been discussions of increasing the partial guarantee in the last year of Gallinari’s contract before the end of the NBA league year.

Nothing has been reported regarding if the Spurs would keep Gallinari should a trade materialize. If they waive him, Gallinari would be on the open market for the Celtics to potentially target.

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