Why Danilo Gallinari’s free agent decision is so important for the Celtics


Danilo Gallinari’s free agent decision is an important barometer for the Celtics. It will indicate where they stand in the NBA hierarchy, and whether they’re now a destination for ring chasing veterans.

Is Durant a pipe dream for the Celtics?

That may sound odd to read, considering Gallinari is a 33-year-old role player whose offensive numbers are declining. But he can still knock down open looks, and the Celtics desperately need more shooting off the bench.

In other words, he would be a perfect complimentary piece for a team that came within two wins of besting the Warriors for the NBA championship.

Can the Celtics land him?

The Spurs waived Gallinari Thursday one day after acquiring him from the Hawks as a throw-in for star guard Dejounte Murray. Now a free agent, Gallinari is deciding between the Celtics and Bulls, according to Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer.

The money isn’t equal. The Bulls have most of their full mid-level exception to offer, which comes in at around $8 million. The Celtics, meanwhile, can offer $6.5 million.

But the Celtics are way ahead of the Bulls, who lost to the Bucks in the first round of the playoffs. A legitimate chance to win a championship should make up for the $1.5 million salary difference.

Gallinari could’ve made a difference in the NBA Finals. The Celtics only got five points from their bench in Game 6, and struggled to score in the fourth quarter over the final two contests of the series.

Their offense became especially stagnant when Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown weren’t on the floor. Nobody else could consistently hit open shots.

That’s where Gallinari would step in. The 2008 first-round pick is a career 38 percent shooter from beyond the arc, and just two years removed from averaging 18.7 points per contest with Oklahoma City. Last season, Gallinari averaged 11.7 points per game with the Hawks, and shot 38 percent from three.

The last time the Celtics were perennial title contenders, they signed Eddie House and James Posey to compliment Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. Both veterans were impact players, and played integral roles in their championship run.

Gallinari could take their place on this Celtics team. That is, assuming he thinks playing for the Celtics is worth taking a slight discount.