Danilo Gallinari’s time with the Denver Nuggets may be drawing to a close, even though he doesn’t want it to.
The expectation has always been that he’ll decline next season’s $16.1 million player option and enter free agency. He would immediately become a top-12 available name and might be worth short-term max money to the right team. But while he’ll be angling for raise, he still wants to remain with the Nuggets. He said so during an interview with BlitzTV (via Sportando):
Danilo Gallinari said that he wants to remain with the Nuggets.
Gallo has a $16.1 million player option for next season that he is not expected to pick. Gallinari will opt out of his contract to test free agency but his goal is to sign a new deal with the Nuggets.
“The relationship between me, the city and the organization is great. This is the reason why I would love to reach an agreement to remain in Denver. I love it here. And I would love to remain with the Nuggets” Gallinari said.
If Gallinari opts out, his cap hold until he signs his next deal rises to around $22.6 million. The Nuggets can float that hit, and the one on Mason Plumlee, and still carve out $11.7 million in cap room. That number will jump past $15 million if they wipe Mike Miller’s non-guaranteed salary from their books. That’s enough to add a quality free agent to one of the league’s most promising young cores.
But the Nuggets also have to weigh the prospect of paying Gallo star-level money. It’s one thing if he’s willing to sign a long-term deal comparable, per year, to the $16.1 million he’s supposed to earn next season. But they can dredge up more than $34 million in cap space by renouncing his hold—again, assuming he opts out. That leaves them one tiny move away from being able to offer a max contract to whomever they damn please—even a 10-plus year veteran like Chris Paul, who’s eligible to earn more than $35 million 2017-18.
Few other teams can say that. Even fewer can create that much coin and still have the trade assets left over to make a run at Jimmy Butler and Paul George on the trade market.
Ideally, perhaps, Gallinari would simply opt in or, again, sign for something close to his 2017-18 salary. If he came back at $18 million, the Nuggets would still be able to approach $20 million in room depending on what they do with Miller.
It’s a complicated situation, especially when you consider cap space may not mean much to a Denver team that isn’t known for poaching big-time free agents. All of which makes the Nuggets a squad to watch over the summer. They figure to be busy bees, regardless of what happens with Gallinari.