Celtics Linked to Elite Three-Point Scorer as MLE Target

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Danilo Gallinari #8 of the Atlanta Hawks.

With the Boston Celtics expected to break the luxury tax threshold, they will be allowed to take advantage of the projected $6.3 million mid-level taxpayer exemption. The Athletic’s Jay King listed 12 players the Celtics could target this offseason with this mid-level exception. One of the top choices of the 12 King lists is Danilo Gallinari.

As of June 28, 2022, Gallinari is not a free agent, but the final year of his contract is only partially guaranteed at $4.5 million. King points out that should Atlanta lose him this summer, the Celtics should target Gallinari for his three-pointer skills.

Gallinari remains under contract with the Atlanta Hawks, at least for now. Even so, only $4.5 million of his $21.5 million deal is guaranteed. Should the Hawks decide to forego him, he would instantly become one of the most established scorers out there. Despite turning 34 before the start of the season and having defensive limitations even in his prime, he has shot more than 40 percent on 3-pointers in three of the last four seasons. Defenses must attack him.

In the 2021-22 regular season, the Celtics shot 35.6 percent from three, which was good for 14th among NBA teams. That shot up to 37.3 percent in the playoffs, which was good for fifth place among those who qualified for the playoffs.

No matter where they ended up in the three-point shooting department, Gallinari’s history of reliable long-range shooting shows he would help the Celtics out there.


Gallinari could be in decline

King later points out that Gallinari posted his lowest pointing average since his freshman year with the New York Knicks, and that his defensive problems and old age may not sit well with Boston’s young core.

Gallinari’s influence has begun to wane. He averaged 11.7 points per game last season, the lowest mark of his career except for his 2008-09 rookie season. He’s not exactly on par with all the plus defenders in Boston’s rotation. He also plays power forward, where the Celtics should be comfortable with Grant Williams backing Al Horford. And Boston’s ideal free-agent target would be younger to have a chance to grow with the core. So that wouldn’t be ideal.

King later adds that despite Gallinari’s weaknesses, he’s someone the Celtics should target because he would bring something to the team offensively.

Gallinari is still worthy of a spot at the top of this list if he hits the free hand.

Even if he does, the timing could make a pursuit difficult for any team, especially one with limited resources. This could be a long shot for a number of reasons, but Gallinari would add some juice to Boston’s offense.


Gallinari could be traded soon

WSB-TV Atlanta’s Zach Klein reported that many believed the Hawks were close to sending Gallinari to the San Antonio Spurs along with several first-round picks for Dejounte Murray.

Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer later corroborated Klein’s report, adding that there had been discussions about increasing the partial guarantee on the final year of Gallinari’s contract before the end of the NBA league year.

Nothing was reported on whether Spurs would keep Gallinari should a deal go through. If they do without him, Gallinari would be on the open market for the Celtics to potentially target.

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