The Oklahoma City Thunder were seen as a rebuilding franchise after they dealt Russell Westbrook and Paul George over the offseason, but they’ve exceeded expectations this year. Oklahoma City is 30-20 and sits at seventh in the Western Conference standings. It won’t compete for a championship this year and needs to move valuable assets before the February 6th trade deadline. Danilo Gallinari is one of the Thunder’s most valuable trading chips, and we broke down what teams should pursue him before the deadline here:
The Mavericks were one of the first teams to show interest in Gallinari, and it seems like this could be a fun fit. Dallas is firmly in the playoff picture and is looking for a third option. It already made a move to acquire Willie Cauley-Stein from the Golden State Warriors after Dwight Powell was lost for the year with a ruptured Achilles. However, more needs to be done. The Mavericks’ infatuation with international players knows no bounds, as Luke Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis serve as the squad’s big two. But Porzingis hasn’t quite reached peak form yet while Doncic is having one of the best sophomore seasons of all time. Gallinari has played most of his minutes this year at power forward and could give Dallas the option to not play Dorian Finney-Smith down low in small ball lineups. Gallinari is a sniper from deep and is a respectable defender as well. His expiring contract is desirable because it allows Dallas to avoid commitment and maintain flexibility for its future.
One thing the 76ers have needed desperately in recent years is shooting. Joel Embiid is one of the most dominant post presences in basketball, but Ben Simmons’ reluctance to shoot from outside the paint can limit Philadelphia’s offensive potential. Gallinari is a versatile 6’10 that can play the three or four, and would only add to the 76ers’ ridiculous length. Adding Ersan Ilyasova to the team a few years ago gave Philadelphia a major offensive boost, and they might need that again this time around. There’s a lot of basketball left to play and the 76ers have underachieved so far,
Unlike the other two teams on this list, the Trail Blazers are trying to break into the playoff picture. Damian Lillard has had to take over heading into the All-Star break as he tries to bump the Memphis Grizzlies out of the eighth seed in the Western Conference, but he needs some help. Portland has attempted to add depth to its guard-centric team by signing a wing in Carmelo Anthony and trading for Hassan Whiteside, but that hasn’t been the answer. Portland needs a scorer who’s less ball dominant than Lillard, Anthony, and C.J. McCollum. Gallinari is serviceable as a catch-and-shoot marksman but can get to the cup just fine when he needs to as well. This move combined with the looming return of Jusuf Nurkic could make Portland a force to be reckoned with in the back half of the season.
Oklahoma City will likely be looking for future first-round picks as compensation for Gallinari, which is a big ask. But if these teams want to compete for a championship as soon as possible, it’s well worth the risk. Time is winding down and these teams should all consider making an upgrade.