Since the surprising departure of Russell Westbrook and Paul George, rumors have started to circulate around the Oklahoma City Thunder and the path that they will be taking in the 2019-20 NBA season. On paper, the Thunder still has enough talent to compete for a playoff spot in the deep Western Conference, but after losing both Westbrook and George, multiple signs are suggesting that Oklahoma City is heading into an inevitable rebuild. As of now, most people believe that the Thunder will be moving some of their veterans before the February trade deadline and focusing on the development of their young players this season.
One of the Thunder’s players who has been frequently mentioned in various trade rumors in the past months is Danilo Gallinari. Compared to Chris Paul, who is owed $124 million over three years, Gallinari would be an ideal trade target for NBA teams who want to boost their chance of contending for the 2020 NBA championship while preserving their salary cap space for the summer of 2020. According to Andy Bailey of Bleacher Report, one of the NBA teams who should strongly consider trading for Gallinari is the Portland Trail Blazers.
“Other than Anthony Tolliver, the Portland Trail Blazers don’t have a typical power forward. Zach Collins should be a 5. Rodney Hood and Mario Hezonja are 3s who are closer to 2s than 4s. They need a more natural fit at that position, such as Danilo Gallinari. A lineup featuring Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Hood and Gallo would get lit up defensively. But that group would also pour in points. We don’t need to extol the virtues of Lillard and McCollum’s offense, but Gallinari is historically underrated on that end.”
With the emergence of numerous powerhouse teams in the deep Western Conference, trading for Gallinari makes a lot of sense for the Trail Blazers. Gallinari may not be on the level of Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, LeBron James, or Kevin Durant, but he would still be an incredible addition to the Trail Blazers, giving them an All-Star-caliber forward and a very reliable scoring option next to Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. In his first four games as a Thunder, Gallinari managed to establish an impressive performance on both ends of the floor, averaging 19.3 points and 4.5 rebounds while shooting 47.1 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from beyond the arc.
In the proposed trade deal by Bleacher Report, the Trail Blazers would be sending a trade package including Kent Bazemore and a 2020 first-round pick to the Thunder in exchange for Danilo Gallinari. The deal works on ESPN‘s NBA Trade Machine. If the trade becomes a reality, it would not only be beneficial for the Trail Blazers but also for the Thunder.
In exchange for Gallinari’s expiring contract, the Thunder would be acquiring a future draft pick that would enable them to add another young and promising talent on their roster. Kent Bazemore may just be included for salary-matching purposes, but the Thunder could still consider flipping him for more future draft assets before next year’s trade deadline.