But that made little sense for the Celtics or Nuggets.
The Boston Celtics fell short of acquiring Jimmy Butler or Paul George ahead of the 3 p.m. ET NBA trade deadline. On Thursday’s SportsCenter with Cari Champion, ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst said that one possible Celtics plan B was to trade for Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari.
They also fell short of that deal, and it’s easy to understand why.
Gallinari has been an integral piece to a Denver Nuggets team currently holding the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoff picture. He is averaging 17.2 points per game on 38 percent three-point shooting. The Nuggets clearly didn’t have an interest in parting ways with their second-leading scorer.
Boston’s discussions with the Chicago Bulls came to a halt when the Bulls required Jae Crowder in any deal involving Butler. Celtics general manager Danny Ainge was reportedly unwilling to part ways with his versatile forward.
The Celtics’ other tradeable assets include swap rights with the Brooklyn Nets’ 2017 first-round pick, the Nets’ 2018 pick outright, and the Memphis Grizzlies’ 2019 first-rounder, as well as a bevy of young, talented players in Marcus Smart, rookie Jaylen Brown, Avery Bradley, and Terry Rozier.
But trading Gallinari didn’t make sense for the Nuggets
Denver’s already made one splash this season, sending reserve big man Jusuf Nurkic to Portland in exchange for a rim-running center in Mason Plumlee. That deal seemingly solidified the Nuggets’ standing as the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
Trading Gallinari would have undid the chemistry and success the team has built this season.
Gallo is a capable perimeter scorer and is shooting the second-best field goal percentage (.432) of his eight-year career. Moving him would have reopened the door for the West’s bottom half to challenge for the eighth seed.
Trading for Gallinari didn’t make much sense for the Celtics, either
Moving a core piece for a superstar, a la Jimmy Butler or Paul George, makes sense for a team with championship aspirations. Star power wins championships in this league, and the Celtics have the movable pieces to acquire another All-Star talent to pair with Isaiah Thomas.
But Gallinari isn’t an All-Star, let alone a superstar. He can space the floor if Brad Stevens puts him at the power forward slot, but Denver’s asking price was too steep. And if the Celtics were unwilling to part ways with Crowder for an All-Star in Butler, they were even stingier for a player with fewer accolades.
Gallinari also has a 15 percent trade kicker on his contract currently scheduled to pay $16.1 million next season. He can exercise his player option to opt-out of the 2017-18 season and enter free agency a season early.