Bulls Expected to Have Interest in Former $64M Veteran Scorer

Chicago Bulls

Getty Danilo Gallinari #8 of the Atlanta Hawks reacts after hitting a three-point basket

The Chicago Bulls could look to pursue journeyman forward Danilo Gallinari if he makes it to the open market. That is the latest update on the team’s free agency plans, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago who provided a brief snapshot of potential free agent targets ahead of the official July 1 open.

But the early negotiation period begins at 6 p.m. ET on June 30 meaning the deals could begin rolling in at a hastened pace.

A Bulls-Gallinari pact could be one of them as a 14-year veteran with size and the ability to stretch the floor. Those are two things that Bulls vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas mentioned as potential areas of need in his exit interview.

Gallinari Has Always Been a Bucket

Gallinari was the Atlanta Hawks’ outgoing player in the blockbuster trade with the San Antonio Spurs. The deal brought point guard Dejounte Murray to the Eastern Conference. NBC Sports’ Kurt Helin reported that the Spurs intend to waive Gallinari.

He averaged 12.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.5 assists while shooting 43.4% from the floor and 39.2% from downtown during his two years in Atlanta.

Johnson says to expect the Bulls to be in that mix.

“The Bulls would join a list of contending teams to show interest in Danilo Gallinari should the veteran shooter be waived by the San Antonio Spurs as expected…Billy Donovan coached Gallinari in Oklahoma City.”

The former sixth-overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft averaged 11.7 points, 4.7 boards, and 1.5 assists. He shot above 38% from deep and filled in admirably for Hawks forward John Collins when the latter was out injured to end the regular season.

He has played for five different organizations in his career and, prior to coming to Atlanta, had been a starter for 10 of his previous 12 seasons.

Gallinari’s lone season in OKC, as Johnson pointed out, coincided with Donovan’s last. The 6-foot-10 forward averaged 18.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.9 assists while knocking down 40.5% of his triples.

Not Footing the Bill

Soon to be 34 years old, Gallinari’s market will ultimately dictate the Bulls’ interest. His inclusion in the Murray trade was key. His 2022-23 salary, worth more than $21 million, per Spotrac, was set to become guaranteed on June 29.

It would have locked him in at that number for the Hawks potentially complicating a move. They agreed to push back that date, though, per Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer.

The fact that the Spurs will waive him means he will be free to sign wherever he wants. Per Johnson, that will only come at the Bulls’ price point.

“If this deal were to happen, it would likely be in the neighborhood of $7-8 million annually for two years.”

Fischer reported that the Bulls were looking to save some money on their non-taxpayer mid-level.

The Chicago Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley reported that there was mutual interest between the Bulls and Orlando Magic free agent big man Mo Bamba. But he added that the Bulls were unwilling to meet his current asking price.

It is unclear if Gallinari would come cheaper than Bamba.

The Bulls’ potential interest was first reported by NBA Italy’s Zeno Pisani who called the Bulls one of the “main suitors” and added that the cost would likely come in at the “MLE” though he does not specify between the taxpayer and non-taxpayer versions.

That is a roughly $4 million difference, per CBS Sports’ Sam Quinn.

Something to Consider

A potential Gallinari-Nikola Vucevic pairing in the frontcourt would give the Bulls two towering shooters with underrated passing skills. They would also be incredibly limited on the defensive end of the floor.

Gallinari has posted negative defensive ratings in each of the last four seasons, per Cleaning the Glass.

Vucevic posted his first positive rating for the first time in four years last season.

Injuries to Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso contributed to Vucevic’s defensive deficiencies becoming a subject of Bulls fans’ consternation.

Gallinari could find himself in a similar boat if the Bulls endure a similar rash of injuries next season. As they push to add two-way players such as 2022 first-rounder Dalen Terry, that is certainly something to keep in mind.

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