Despite the Oklahoma City Thunder‘s creditable 28-20 record, several of the team’s key players have been brought up in trade rumors ahead of next week’s deadline. These include starting forward Danilo Gallinari, whose contract is due to expire after the 2019-20 season, thus potentially making him one of the more sought-after free agent prospects this summer.
In a list of the NBA’s top trade targets and their ideal destinations, Bleacher Report‘s Zach Buckley wrote that Gallinari’s offensive skills make him a desirable option for rival teams. At the moment, he is averaging 19.6 points per game, and shooting 45.4 percent from the field, 42.4 percent from three-point range, and 90.6 percent from the free throw line. He also boasts the dribbling skills to elude larger defenders and the height to create size mismatches while shooting over smaller ones.
Citing his colleague Eric Pincus, Buckley noted that the Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, and Phoenix Suns have all been rumored to be interested in Gallinari, but mainly focused on the defending NBA champions as a potential suitor for the Italian forward. As Buckley pointed out, the 31-year-old may be the best trade target for the Raptors, who could make an “aggressive” trade and acquire him to add some spark to their 14th-ranked offense — a contrast to their defense, which ranks second in the entire league.
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According to Buckley, making a move for Gallinari won’t compromise Toronto’s plans to make young forward Pascal Siakam the centerpiece of their offense. However, he stressed that the Thunder star could team up with point guard Kyle Lowry and serve as one of the Raptors’ top supporting players. The fact that his contract expires this summer was also suggested as a key selling point, as choosing not to re-sign him could allow the Raptors to theoretically bid for Giannis Antetokounmpo and other high-profile prospective free agents in the 2021 offseason.
“Gallo would work in both offense-heavy quintets meant to overwhelm opposing defenses or extra-long groupings meant to flood the floor with length and limbs.”
The Raptors aren’t the only organization that experts have said could benefit from Gallinari’s presence, even as a half-season “rental” who could leave via free agency after the 2019-20 season. Earlier this month, ESPN’s Zach Lowe wrote that the Miami Heat could use a “stretch” power forward with defensive skills like Gallinari, but also speculated that the Thunder, due to their status as a playoff contender, might choose to hang on to him as they remain competitive in the deep Western Conference.