Though they remain a competitive team in the 2019-20 NBA season, the Oklahoma City Thunder are highly expected to be sellers rather than buyers before the February trade deadline. The Thunder may currently have enough talents to compete for a playoff spot in the deep Western Conference, but since the departure of Russell Westbrook and Paul George, multiple signs are pointing out that Oklahoma City is heading into an inevitable rebuild. As of now, one of the most intriguing trade candidates on the Thunder’s roster is All-Star forward Danilo Gallinari.
“For teams who can’t afford Love or don’t want a long-term commitment, Gallinari is a great option. He’s owed about $6 million less than Love this season, making a deal slightly easier to manage, plus Gallinari’s contract is expiring. For teams in need of a stretch-four, Gallo is a knock-down 3-point shooter who will get you 16-18 points per game in his sleep.”
Gallinari may not be as popular as Love, but he has similar strengths to the Cavaliers superstar. Aside from being a very reliable option on the offensive end of the floor, the 31-year-old power forward is also an incredible rebounder, passer, and floor-spacer. This season, he’s averaging 17.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 2.1 assists while shooting 42.7 percent from the field and 38.8 percent from beyond the arc. Compared to Love, Gallinari is also a much better defender.
Ward-Henninger mentioned five teams who could emerge as Gallinari’s potential suitors before the trade deadline. These include the Portland Trail Blazers, Miami Heat, Denver Nuggets, Boston Celtics, and the Orlando Magic. Though he’s not as dominant as LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, or Paul George, Gallinari could help all those teams become more competitive in their respective conferences.
Of all the five organizations on the list, the Trail Blazers are the team that has most frequently been mentioned in rumors involving Gallinari. Despite having the explosive backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, the Trail Blazers are struggling this season, currently sitting in the No. 12 spot in the Western Conference with a 10-16 record. Adding Gallinari would not only solve the Trail Blazers’ frontcourt issue, but it could also help them return to the playoff race.
Gallinari may not have shown any sign that he’s no longer happy in Oklahoma City but at this point in his NBA career, he would definitely be better off playing for a legitimate playoff contender than wasting his prime on a rebuilding team like the Thunder. In any potential deal involving Gallinari, the Thunder are expected to demand a trade package that includes a young player or a future draft pick.