Portland Trail Blazers: Is Danilo Gallinari a realistic free agent target?

Oklahoma City Thunder vet Danilo Gallinari said he would sacrifice money in free agency to contend for a title. Is he a realistic target for the Portland Trail Blazers?

2020 Free Agent Oklahoma City Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari recently said he would take less money on his next contract to play for a contender. The Portland Trail Blazers should definitely enquire about his services for 2021.

The six-foot-ten Gallinari was likely to command a decent sum in free agency, but he may have a few factors working against him now. The cap is likely to be down in 2021, with the COVID-hit season potentially leaving the 2020/21 cap at $109 million, the same number that it was for 2019/20.

Not only is there limited cap space around the league, the potential of no fans in arenas for the 2021 season, combined with no gate takings in the 2020 playoffs, means that some teams may look to either cut payroll or try to get out of the luxury tax.

Certain teams or owners will want to spend less on salary in the next 2020 season, impacting many players in this free agency period.

But, with the potential for the salary cap to return to higher levels again in the 2021/22 seasons, players can take one-year deals to enter free agency again in that year.

For Gallinari, who is now a free agent after finishing this season with the Thunder, he will likely have many suitors, but only a few can offer him a significant deal of more than $15 million.

Just seven teams have more than $15 million in cap space. And of those seven, not all of them want to vaporize their cap space on one player. Also, not all of them need a power forward who is in his thirties.

Breaking it down even further based on Gallinari’s comments about playing for a contender, we can eliminate some teams that won’t be contending. The Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, Charlotte Hornets, and New Orleans Pelicans all have ample cap space, but none of those are even playoff teams, so he won’t choose them.

This leaves the Toronto Raptors and the Miami Heat as teams with ample cap space who could sign him. The Heat want to be in the race for Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2021, so they could probably only offer a one year deal, and the Raptors have just inked power forward Pascal Siakam to a four-year max deal, so Gallinari wouldn’t fit there.

I won’t break down every team and how Gallinari fits with them, but his market isn’t as big as you may think.

The Blazers have a few options. They can offer a multiyear deal at around the midlevel exception, or they can enter into a sign and trade with the Thunder. With lots of teams over the cap this year, sign and trades will be used as a way for teams to be able to sign players like Gallinari.

The original team, in this case, the Thunder, would sign Gallinari and then move him to a team of his choice, and then get an asset and/or picks in return.

From the Blazers standpoint, they probably have a fair chance of signing him if he’s willing to take a pay cut. They have the core of the 53 win team from two seasons ago, but have added Gary Trent Jr. to that core, while Damian Lillard has taken the next step in his ascension to full-blown superstar status.

If Gallinari were to get a two-year deal on lesser money, then the Blazers could offer a player option in the second year. The same with a three-year deal with a player option on the third.

If this was a sign and trade, then Gallinari could get an amount both teams agreed upon, and then the Blazers could guarantee Trevor Ariza‘s salary and trade him to the Thunder to match the salaries.

Gallinari’s fit with the Blazers is perfect. He is the best volume shooting big on the market, and his health and efficiency concerns are well behind him.

He shot 41 and 44 percent the last two seasons and missed just 14 games last season and 10 this season.

A power forward that shoots 40 percent from three on 19 points a game is a perfect fit next to Jusuf Nurkic. They would have the offense/defense punch in the frontcourt with genuine positional size. The addition of Gallinari would almost certainly give the Blazers a top-three offense in the NBA.

The Blazers already had the third-best offense in the 2019/20 season. With a fit Nurkic and one other addition, this could be the best offense in the NBA.

Next: Portland Trail Blazers: Four little-known trades that would have altered franchise history