“I want to thank Denver,” Gallinari said at Thomas & Mack Center Saturday. “I played seven seasons there. I had an amazing time, amazing memories, nothing but good thoughts. I want to thank all the people that I worked with in Denver.”
It’s on to Los Angeles and on to a new organization for Gallinari who arrived in Denver as a part of the Carmelo Anthony trade in 2011 and was the Nuggets’ longest-tenured player along with Wilson Chandler — another piece of the package that sent Anthony to New York.
Like every free agent making a life-altering decision in free agency, the choice to leave Denver and head west was something the 28-year-old battles with.
“It wasn’t easy,” Gallinari said. “After seven years there it’s not easy for any player to make a change. I think that the interest that the Clippers showed (in) me was amazing. The meetings that I had were great. That’s the team that has the best chance to win.”
Gallinari will team with frontcourt mates Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan to form one of the league’s premier trios at the small forward, power forward and center positions. The fit with Griffin and Jordan is what attracted the Clippers to Gallinari, a player they’ve pursued for quite some time.
“This is a guy that we’ve been after for two years and we basically had to wait for free agency to get him. I can’t tell you how excited I am to coach Gallo,” Rivers said. “One of the reasons we wanted him, was the versatility. His ability to play the three and play the four his passing ability, his scoring ability, his playmaking ability.”
The ability to play inside and out, get to the line almost at will on offense, and play effectively in the pick-and-roll are all qualities that Los Angeles loved about Gallinari. When he’s healthy and on the court, Gallinari is a premier offensive talent that can harness an entire teams’ scoring load.
Call it the “Warriors effect” if you want but as the NBA continues to shift from defined positions and more concrete roles to a fluid mix of versatile and high-IQ two-way players, adding Gallinari to the Clippers current roster, which also includes Patrick Beverley and fresh European import Milos Teodisic, is an ideal roster according to the Clippers’ brass.
“We looked at basically positionless basketball,” Frank said. “Many people forget Gallo is 6-10 and having a 6-10 player be able to play both forward positions. We looked at combinations him and Blake and felt that the versatility in the pick-and-roll and end-of-game situations along with DJ and the backcourt players we have — we feel it’s a perfect fit.”
And with that, the 4,898 points and 1,400+ free-throws Gallinari made in a Nuggets’ uniform are sealed in Denver’s archives.
Gallinari essentially carried the torch in Denver from the time that the Nuggets dealt Anthony through last season when Nikola Jokic took the reigns on offense and led Denver to the most efficient scoring team in the league once he was cemented as the starting center.
What Gallinari did for the Nuggets organization will be held in high regard by fans, coaches, and teammates.
“I think that when you win, you remember the times that you were winning,” Gallinari said of the memories he’ll have of Denver. “The year right after the trade when we went to the playoffs three years in a row. Last year, before I got injured, when we were third in the West, those winning times especially the last season when we had a lot of records for the franchise, that year when we had 15-straight (wins), 57 wins. Those are great memories.”