Top Free Agent Sends Clear Message to Lakers, Sparking Rumors

Danilo Gallinari, left, guarded by Lakers forward Anthony Davis

Getty Danilo Gallinari, left, guarded by Lakers forward Anthony Davis

It is no secret that Danilo Gallinari is a free agent once the NBA offseason begins in earnest. He just played out the final year of the three-year, $65 million contract he signed as part of his trade to the Clippers in 2017.

The question is where, exactly, he will land when he goes shopping for a new deal. Coming off a major contract like the one he just had, you might expect that he would be looking for another eight-figure payout. But that is not necessarily the case.

In an intriguing twist, Gallinari said this week he is not necessarily chasing the big money this offseason. He has only been to the postseason four times in his career and has never advanced past the first round. He is prioritizing playing for a contender over a payday.

“At this time, yes,” he said, according to Sportando. “I’m not 20 anymore.”

That comment has caught the interest of Lakers fans. More blatant, though, was the tweet Gallinari sent out congratulating the Lakers on their championship—not something players typically do, especially not major free agents.

That, of course, led to comments like this one from former Lakers beat writer Ben Rosales.

Gallinari Earned Respect for Playing in NBA Bubble  

Gallinari won some respect around the league when he agreed to go to Orlando and play for the Thunder during the NBA restart. As one of the most prominent free-agents on the market, he had plenty of reason to sit out and not risk putting himself in harm’s way.

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Instead, he went to the NBA bubble and helped the Thunder push the Rockets to seven games in the first round of the playoffs. He struggled with his shot, only making 32.4% of his 3s, but his presence was valuable.

He said there was no doubt he would go to Orlando to finish off Oklahoma City’s season.

“Not in my mind or my agent’s mind,” Gallinari said on a conference call. “The main reason is because we are fighting for something, and I think that what we are fighting for and what we play for is more important than the free agency that I’m going to approach.”

Gallinari Has a Long Injury History

Gallinari is 32 years old, which gives some around the league pause about how whether he is worthy of a sizable long-term contract. There is also a question about durability. Gallinari suffered an ACL injury in 2013 that kept him out for a full year and has had a litany of injuries even before—and since—he hurt his knee.

Even if you remove the season in which his knee was hurt, Gallinari missed 183 games in 11 years, an average of 16.6 games per season. He missed 10 this season in OKC, 14 two years ago with the Clippers and 61 three years ago when he suffered injuries to his hand and rear end. Any team that brings in Gallinari then, will do so at its own peril—it is unlikely he will be healthy for the duration.

But when he is on the floor, Gallinari is very useful, a model European stretch-4. He is a career 38.0% shooter from the 3-point arc and has shot 41.8% on 3s in the last two seasons. He averaged 18.7 points with the Thunder last season.

READ NEXT: Kobe Bryant Posted a Hilarious Photo of Anthony Davis 8 years ago

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