Warriors

If Gallinari values titles over cash, Warriors could be fit

Warriors

Warriors general manager Bob Myers might not pay much attention to Italian sports festivals, but he should've this week.

Free-agent forward Danilo Gallinari said Sunday at the Festival dello Sport that he will prioritize a chance at winning a championship over signing a lucrative contract.

"Yes. At this time, yes," Gallinari said (translation via Sportando). "I'm not 20 anymore."

The Warriors were an NBA-worst 15-50 when the regular season was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, and Golden State didn't look the part of a title contender with Steph Curry sidelined for all but five games and Klay Thompson missing the entirety of the season.

But Curry and Thompson should be healthy at the start of next season, and a potentially rejuvenated Draymond Green will have had longer to rest and recover than he did at any point during the Warriors' five consecutive NBA Finals runs in the previous decade. There's a lot to like about Golden State's championship chances, and Gallinari would be close to an ideal fit as a complementary piece. 

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Gallinari, 32, can score from just about any spot on the floor, and he'd give the Warriors another capable ball-handler. He's also a career 38 percent shooter on 3-pointers, knocking down nearly 42 percent of his shots from beyond the arc over the last two seasons. Gallinari averaged 18.7 points per game with the Oklahoma City Thunder last season, although he was used on a career-high 24.6 percent of OKC's offensive possessions.

 

Somewhat counter-intuitively, that kind of usage might not dissuade the Warriors. With Thompson set for his first game action since tearing his ACL in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals, Steve Kerr and his coaching staff will ease Thompson back into Golden State's lineup. Having a versatile scorer of Gallinari's caliber means Thompson doesn't have to shoulder as much of a load early on, and it'd be difficult for the Warriors to find a better No. 3 scorer once Thompson has gotten back into the swing of things, considering their lack of available salary-cap space. 

That lack of space, however, is a significant hurdle to overcome. The Warriors could offer Gallinari the taxpayer mid-level exception -- which was approximately $5.7 million last season -- in free agency. As CBS Sports' Sam Quinn noted Tuesday, multiple aspiring contenders could offer Gallinari the full mid-level exception -- $9.258 million last season -- or acquire him into cap space via sign-and-trade.

Would making more money on the full mid-level with, say, the reigning champion Los Angeles Lakers -- which Quinn lists as a possibility, depending on which players the Lakers retain -- be more appealing than joining the Warriors? Even with Curry and Thompson back, Golden State will have an adjustment period re-integrating both players into the lineup.

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Still, if Gallinari's truly as serious as his translated comments make clear, Myers must reach out to gauge interest whenever free agency begins. Gallinari's the kind of player who can help the Warriors on their path back to championship contention, and they almost certainly won't be able to get better bang for their buck this offseason than signing him to a deal using the taxpayer mid-level exception.

Gallinari made nearly $23 million last season, so a mid-level deal in the middle of a still-raging global pandemic -- which will affect NBA revenues moving forward -- might require too step of a pay cut for his liking. But, it absolutely won't hurt the Warriors to pick up the phone.