Danilo Gallinari Diagnosed With Torn Left ACL

The news for Danilo Gallinari and the Celtics has gone from bad to worse, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that Gallinari underwent further evaluation on his injured left knee and has now been diagnosed with an ACL tear.

After Gallinari injured his knee playing for Italy in a World Cup qualifying game last week, reports indicated that the Italian national team’s medical staff determined the ACL was intact. The veteran forward was later diagnosed with a torn meniscus, but additional examinations have revealed a more serious injury.

It’s a brutal turn of events for Gallinari and the Celtics. A torn meniscus is a significant enough injury on its own, but there was a chance that the 34-year-old could return from that ailment in a matter of weeks, or at least at some point during the 2022/23 season. An ACL tear is likely to keep Gallinari on the shelf for the entire year.

A 13-year NBA veteran, Gallinari spent the last two seasons with the Hawks, averaging 12.4 PPG and 4.4 RPG on .434/.392/.915 shooting in 117 games (24.7 MPG) during that time. He was traded to San Antonio this summer in the Dejounte Murray blockbuster, then was waived by the Spurs before his salary for 2022/23 became fully guaranteed.

Once he reached free agency, Gallinari signed a two-year, $13.3MM deal with the Celtics, who used their full taxpayer mid-level exception to bring him aboard. He was expected to provide some scoring punch in Boston’s frontcourt, but now seems unlikely to contribute until 2023/24.

The second year on Gallinari’s deal is a player option — it looks like a safe bet he’ll end up exercising it, since he’s unlikely to do well on the free agent market next summer as a 35-year-old coming off a torn ACL. He tore the same ACL in 2013 as a member of the Nuggets.

With Gallinari likely to miss all of ’22/23, the Celtics will have the ability to apply for a disabled player exception, which would be worth 50% of his salary (about $3.2MM), notes ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link).

A disabled player exception can be used to sign a free agent, to claim a player off waivers, or to acquire a player in a trade, as long as the team has an available roster spot to accommodate the addition. The exception can only be used on a single player and can only accommodate a player on a one-year deal. A free agent signee can’t get a multiyear contract, and any trade or waiver target must be in the final year of his contract.

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