Gallinari: Joining the L.A. Clippers gives him “the best chance to win.”»
LAS VEGAS» The highlights of Danilo Gallinari’s career in Denver played on big-screen TVS throughout the room inside UNLV’S Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday afternoon. Clips of the 6-foot-10 forward draining 3pointers, dunking in traffic and throwing behind-the-back passes, all while wearing a Nuggets jersey, played on a loop.
Then Gallinari walked into the room with a view of the Las Vegas Strip, sat next to his new coach, Doc Rivers, and was officially announced as the newest member of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Those highlights that kept rolling overhead, of “Gallo” playing in Nuggets colors, represent only memories now.
“Just like for every player, it wasn’t easy,” Gallinari said of leaving Denver. “After seven years there, it’s not easy for any player to make that change. The love and interest the Clippers showed me was amazing. The meetings with them were great, and I think that’s the team that gave me the best chance to win in my free agency. That’s the most important reason.”
The Clippers had coveted Gallinari for two years, Rivers said. They like bigs with versatility and believe their new forward fits the bill. Gallinari is coming off a season in which he averaged 18.2 points and shot 44.7 percent from the field.
“One of the reasons we wanted him was the versatility,” Rivers said. “He has the ability to play the three (small forward) or the four (power forward). His passing ability, his scoring ability, his playmaking ability, with him and Blake (Griffin) … I don’t know if there’s any better combination in the league.”
The Clippers were hit last month with the departure of Chris Paul, the all-league point guard who moved to Houston in a sign-and-trade deal. There is no replacing a player of his caliber, but Rivers said he is confident the re-signing of Griffin and the addi- tions of Gallinari, European point guard Milos Teodosic and “insti- gator” Patrick Beverley — a guard the Clippers received from Hous- ton in the trade — will keep L.A. in the mix in the NBA’S treacherous Western Conference.
Gallinari said he is itching to get back into the postseason. When was traded to the Nuggets in 2011, in a blockbuster trade that sent superstar Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks, he was a part of three straight trips to the post-season. During the 2012-13 season, he helped the Nuggets set franchise records for consecutive wins (15) and overall wins in an NBA regular season (57) before suffering a knee injury that cost him more than a full season.
“Those winning times, especially that last season (in 2013) when we set all those records for the franchise, those are great memories,” Gallinari said.
Veteran forward Danilo Gallinari no longer plays for the Nuggets, having joined the Los Angeles Clippers in a sign-and-trade deal.