The Nuggets received some crushing news today when an MRI revealed that, as feared, Danilo Gallinari suffered a torn ACL in his left knee during last night's win against the Mavs, knocking him out for the season. The team's press release on its website doesn't indicate whether Gallinari will be ready for training camp in the fall, but the Nuggets probably aren't too concerned with next season just yet, with this year's playoffs set to start in two weeks.
Gallinari, who's on Denver's books for more than $32.5MM through 2016, is the team's second leading scorer this season, averaging 16.2 points per game, just slightly less than the 16.7 PPG Ty Lawson produces. There's no denying the 24-year-old Gallinari is a key cog for a Nuggets team currently in third place in the Western Conference. Still, there's reason to believe Denver, with all its depth, will do just fine without him.
Soon-to-be free agent Corey Brewer seems the most logical candidate to inherit Gallinari's minutes. A couple weeks ago, Nuggets coach George Karl told Sam Amick of USA Today that he wanted to give Brewer more time at the end of games, but was hesitant to do so because of the money the team owes to Gallinari and Andre Iguodala.
"I have no problem finishing any way I think I can win," Karl said. "Sometimes that ruffles the feathers a little bit of my players. But Corey Brewer is the guy who I think has played well enough to finish a lot of games. I don't do it all the time, and when I don't do it I think it's unfair to Corey, because even though Iguodala and Gallo are the high-paid dudes, sometimes Corey is the better basketball player. It's not right that we always give it to the guy who gets paid the most money. There should not be an entitlement that because you get paid the most money, that you should finish every game. But if you don't do it, then the agents are going to call and the players are going to mope and so you negotiate that. It's a compromise as a coach."
While the Heat were running off their 27-game winning streak, the Nuggets had a lengthy winning streak of their own that lasted 15 games. Gallinari played in 13 of them, but his performance was subpar. He averaged just 12.7 PPG, and his field-goal shooting (37.8%) was well below his season mark of 41.8%. Gallinari is renowned as a three-point sharpshooter, but his 37.3% accuracy from behind the arc this year is less than the 40.2% displayed by Wilson Chandler, another candidate to see increased minutes with Gallinari out.
There were questions about whether Denver's up-tempo attack would hold up in the playoffs even before the Gallinari injury, and the doubts are no less apparent today. Still, it's worth wondering if the Nuggets' chances of winning the title are really any worse off than they were yesterday. Let us know your thoughts with either a vote, a comment, or both.
The Nuggets escaped last night's game against the Mavericks with a 95-94 win, maintaining their hold on the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference, but the bad news outweighed the good. Danilo Gallinari left the game with a knee injury that both Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports and Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post hear is likely an ACL tear. As the Nuggets wait for more information on an injury that could be a huge blow to the team's title chances, let's check in on a few other notes out of the Northwest....
Before the Grizzlies traded Rudy Gay to the Raptors last month, one avenue they explored was a deal with the Nuggets, according to Chris Tomasson of FOX Sports Florida. Tomasson tweets that Denver turned down an offer that would have involved sending Danilo Gallinari to Memphis in a deal for Gay. All parties involved seem happy with the way things eventually turned out, and Sam Amick of USA Today spoke to Gay about the forward's exit from Memphis and the deal that sent him to Toronto. Here are the highlights from the conversation:
On telling a Toronto radio station that he missed "nothing" about Memphis:
"Obviously that was just out of a little bit of anger. There were a lot of people in Memphis and a lot of relationships I left in Memphis that I'll always have. I'm so thankful for the city doing what they've done for me up until now."
On whether he saw the trade coming:
"It was a total shock to me. I never went to any of (the new management) and told them that I wanted to be traded. I've never done that. The summer before, I did. I said this team has a chance to be a competitor in the West, and we're going to be good, but if you plan on doing anything - this is the summer before - I said I want to express to you that I may be wanting to move on."
On why he expressed an openness to a trade last summer:
"It was a post-dominated team, and I didn't get a chance to have a guy who you could say was a stone-cold guy who you went to all the time. A couple games it'd be Marc [Gasol], then it'd be me, and then it'd be Zach [Randolph], you know what I mean? So at that point, I was like, 'I want to see what I can do with an open floor.' And I got that (in Toronto), but as long as we were winning, I'd like to see myself as a great teammate. And as long as we're winning, I'll do whatever, just be on the perimeter and open the floor for the big fellas, then that's what I'll do."
On staying in Toronto long-term:
"I've played six games. I don't know about (re-signing), but I love the organization. I possibly could be here for the rest of my career, but who knows."
On the Raptors' outlook:
"I'm excited about this team -- excited about the possibilities of how good we can be. It was kind of a mixture of feelings when it first happened, getting traded and not knowing anything and one day thinking you're competing for a championship and the next day you're getting shipped off somewhere. It was a mixture of feelings... and now I've just got to embrace where I'm at. I'm happy I'm a Raptor right now.... I want to see this team be a good team, to be a playoff team again."
Although Chad Ford's weekly chat at ESPN.com featured plenty of draft questions once again this week, Ford also addressed a number of trade questions and rumors. Many of Ford's answers focused more on his own opinions or speculation, but here are a few of the highlights from ESPN's NBA draft guru:
Jason Quick of the Oregonian looks at the friendly rivalry between the Trail Blazers' Nicolas Batum and the Nuggets' Danilo Gallinari that has stemmed from their days as young Euroleague stars hoping to make it into the NBA. Most notably, Quick mentions that Batum's salary negotiations this past summer were influenced by the type of deals that Gallinari, Marvin Williams, and Arron Afflalo had received with their respective teams. With that aside, here are a few more rumblings from around the Association tonight:
It appears Warriors guard Stephen Curry's ankles are either 100% or very close to it. Earlier today Curry tweeted that he was finally able to participate in scrimmages with his teammates, and CSNBayArea.com's Matt Steinmetz later confirmed the tweet by writing that Curry indeed played five-on-five at the team's downtown Oakland practice facility.
Here's some other news from around the league.
In an article by the Orlando Sentinel's Josh Robbins, Stan Van Gundy explained that the injury to Hedo Turkoglu has caused major defensive issues for the Magic that the team should be able to overcome by the playoffs.