What Does the Danilo Gallinari Injury Mean for the Boston Celtics?
Coming off a playoff run that brought them to within two wins of the Larry O’Brien trophy, the Boston Celtics found themselves in a unique position this offseason. With the vast majority of their main rotation pieces being under the age of 30, it would have been easy for the President of Basketball Operations, Brad Stevens, to simply “run it back” with the current roster. That being said, Brad had no intentions of heading into his second offseason as manager without aiming to improve the current roster.
The Celtics started the summer with a bang – acquiring Pacers’ guard Malcolm Brogdon in exchange for Malik Fitts, Juwan Morgan, Daniel Theis, Aaron Nesmith, Nik Stauskas, and a 2023 first-round pick. In the following weeks' rumors surrounding free agent big man Danilo Gallinari started to form. Before fans knew it, Gallinari was inked to a two-year, 13.5 million-dollar contract with the Boston Celtics.
With emerging superstars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, along with crucial core pieces such as Robert Williams III, Grant Williams, Marcus Smart, and Derrick White all set to continue developing, the external additions of Gallinari and Brogdon landed the Celtics in first at +500 odds to win the 2022-2023 NBA Championship according to FanDuel.
On September 2, 2022, the Celtics announced that Gallinari had been diagnosed with a torn ACL in his left knee, the same injury he faced in April of the 2013 season. While initial reports had encouraged optimism for Gallinari to be active as soon as November, this news realistically shuts him down for the entirety of the 2022-2023 season.
Nevertheless, the chase for 18 continues for the Celtics this season, and they still have multiple potential options that I believe could replace the production Gallinari would have provided.
Believe in internal development.
The potential decline of Al Horford is on the mind of every Celtics fan right now. Given the proven production he provides year in and year out in the playoffs (specifically against Giannis), Al has solidified himself as one of the Celtics' most important defenders. Hopefully, with another year of experience under their belts, both Grant and Robert Williams will be able to take yet another leap and fill any potential void an aging Horford could leave. Going this route would enable the Celtics to avoid spending additional money and pushing themselves further into the luxury tax.
The Juancho Hernangomez TPE (Traded Player Exception)
Although the Celtics did not end up using the 17 million-dollar TPE that expired on July 18th, they still have many others, including a 6.9 million-dollar TPE from the Juancho Hernangomez deal not expire until January 19, 2023. There are multiple routes that the Celtics could take with this TPE, and here are some names that I believe to be attainable and would fit into the Hernangomez TPE.
Bruce Brown (6.5 million) - Denver Nuggets
Otto Porter Jr. (6 million) - Toronto Raptors
Kevin Knox (5.8 million) - Detroit Pistons
While all three players will not be tradable until they have been under contract for three months, I believe these are some potential names to look out for if they do not fit well with their respective new teams.
Sign Carmelo Anthony to the veteran minimum
Carmelo Anthony is someone who I believe can still significantly contribute to a championship team in the proper bench role. Carmelo is coming off of a season in which he averaged 13.3 ppg on 37.5% from three and had an eFG of 54.4%, both of which are over league average. Adding another stretch forward off the bench could substantially improve the shot-making and variation of offensive sets that Udoka and the Celtics could run.
All in all, the Boston Celtics find themselves in one of the best situations in the league. Coming off a finals run with a first-year head coach in Ime Udoka and some of the league's brightest young stars, and despite the loss of Danilo Gallinari, the upcoming season should be something to look forward to for all Celtics fans.