Well, cross one potential bargain star off the list of potential Lakers targets. Forward Danilo Gallinari could be headed to the Mavericks in a draft-night trade that would see the Mavs give up the No. 18 pick to the Thunder, according to former agent-turned-reporter Matt Babcock.
The deal would give the Mavericks a three-pronged Euro attack, with Gallinari joining forces with star guard Luka Doncic and center Kristaps Porzingis.
For much of the day, Gallinari appeared destined for Atlanta, where he was rumored to be joining Lakers reserve guard Rajon Rondo as the Hawks attempt to make the leap from rebuilding franchise to playoff contender. It is still possible that Gallinari winds up with the Hawks.
But the key in both potential transactions is that Gallinari, slated to be an unrestricted free agent on Friday, would be dealt on a sign-and-trade, which assures that he can be paid more than the midlevel exception. Because the Thunder have Gallinari’s Bird Rights, they are allowed to sign him to a deal independent of the salary cap. The Bird Rights would transfer with him in a sign-and-trade.
That means Gallinari can be paid much more than the $9 million available in the mid-level exception, taking the Lakers out of the running for his services. If the Lakers were to sign him, it would be as a free agent for some part of the mid-level exception. L.A. does not have the assets available to do a sign-and-trade with the Thunder.
Gallinari Hinted at Interest In Los Angeles Lakers
There was some hope that Gallinari would be willing to take a steep discount to join the Lakers. That hope was fueled by two things—one, an interview in which Gallinari said he that money was not the most important aspect of his free agency, and two, a social media post from last month in which he oddly congratulated the Lakers on their championship.
Gallinari said in October that he was prioritizing playing for a contender over a payday. “At this time, yes,” he said, according to Sportando. “I’m not 20 anymore.”
That comment caught the interest of Lakers fans, eager to find bargain acquisitions willing to come to L.A. to fill out the team’s thin rotation.
A more blatant signal that Gallinari might be a future Laker, though, was the tweet Gallinari sent out congratulating the team—not something players typically do, especially not major upcoming free agents. Gallinari almost appeared eager to be a Lakers target.
Gallinari Has a Long Injury History
It may be that Gallinari steering clear of the Lakers has more to do with the viewpoint of L.A. than with Gallinari.
He 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.