NBA Free Agency: Mavs Like Gallinari, But at What Price?

The Dallas Mavericks almost traded for Oklahoma City Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari at last season’s NBA Trade Deadline. How would he fit with this current Mavs roster, and how much money will he want if they pursue him further this offseason?
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We've always known about the Dallas Mavericks' long-standing interest in acquiring Oklahoma City Thunder forward Danilo Galinari.

Maybe it's time we start talking about the "how's'' in that scenario, given that it seems to be one of the more 'realistic' upgrades the Mavs could make this offseason.

After a relatively quiet Mavs trade deadline last season, owner Mark Cuban went on 105.3 The Fan and said the team came close to acquiring ‘two really big pieces.''

One of those pieces, we eventually learned, was Danny Green, who the Mavs pursued in the previous offseason to no avail. Had the Lakers traded for Marcus Morris — who is now Public Enemy No. 1 for Mavs fans — the Mavs believed they had a deal in place to acquire Green. Alas, Morris went to the Los Angeles Clippers instead, leaving the Mavs empty handed yet again.

READ MORE: Step Back Pod: NBA Trade Rumors - Gordon or DeRozan as Mavs fits?

We always "educated-guessed'' that the second ‘big piece’ almost acquired at the trade deadline was Gallinari. On Tuesday, the Dallas Morning News confirmed that Gallinari was indeed the guy, but that the Mavs couldn’t workout an extension with him to make the deal go through. 

Now, Gallinari is an unrestricted free agent, and Dallas will have another shot to add the 32-year-old sharp-shooter if they so desire.

Gallinari has been no stranger to unfortunate injuries throughout his career, but he’s stayed relatively healthy over the last couple of years. In his last two seasons with the Clippers and Thunder respectively, Gallinari averaged 19.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists while playing 30 minutes per game. He shot 45% from the field and 42% from deep during that time. 

Gallinari is a versatile forward with the capability of playing at either the three or the four spot, an attribute that's likely music to head coach Rick Carlisle's ears.

As good as the Mavs' offense was last season, it could still become even more lethal by adding a knock-down shooter like Gallinari to the mix. As far as fit goes, it's a seamless one on the offensive end. If Gallinari shot the ball as well as he did last season with 35-year-old Chris Paul as his main facilitator (CP3 is still very good, but past his prime), then it's not hard to imagine Gallinari shooting the ball just as well, if not better, playing next to All-NBA First Teamer Luka Doncic. Below, we talk in-depth about the Mavs' interest in Gallinari and his fit with the team on our Mavs Step Back Podcast if you'd like to take a listen (starting at the 24:52 mark).

Guys like Dorian Finney-Smith and Maxi Kleber had career-high shooting percentages this past season, but when they made their playoff debuts, those percentages dropped as they carried most of the burden that comes with having to guard Kawhi Leonard and Paul George for an entire series. Having another player like Gallinari on the team, who can go get you a bucket from anywhere at anytime, would put less pressure on the Mavs' other role players to be 'perfect'. 

And again, the biggest upside to potentially signing Gallinari is his ability to play multiple positions offensively. Sure, Gallinari is a little slow-footed on the defensive end, but when you're able to play him in lineups featuring your best defenders, that concern is minimized.

Whether or not Gallinari becomes a Maverick or not could come down to money, just like it seemingly did at last season's trade deadline. How long of a contract doest the 32-year-old want? How much money does he want to make per year on his next contract? Is he willing to come down from the $20 million per year he's averaged over the last two seasons in order to potentially compete for a championship?

"Yes. At this time, yes. I'm not 20 anymore," said Gallinari recently in an interview with Sportando. If Gallinari truly means what he says there, then the Mavs will have a legitimate shot at signing him whenever free agency commences, assuming that he sees the Mavs as being title contenders going forward.

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Barring some sort of sign-and-trade with OKC, or even an outright trade with another team to create cap space, the Mavs will likely enter this offseason as an over-the-cap team, meaning that the most they'd be able to offer Gallinari would be the full Mid-Level Exception, which is worth $9.3 million per year. 

Depending on other moves the Mavs could make this offseason - including a potential extension for Tim Hardaway Jr., something that both parties have interest in doing, as Mark Cuban told - signing Gallinari could impact the Mavs projected near-max cap space for the 2021 offseason. By now, though, our readers know where we stand on this issue. Preserving 'projected cap space' isn't a 'win-now' move. If you have a chance to sign a player like Gallinari and improve your team, you do it, and then worry about making the proper room Giannis Antetokounmpo when he tells you he wants to come to Dallas. With as many team-friendly contracts as the Mavs currently have on the roster, it would not be difficult for them to created cap space when the time comes.

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For this scenario to come to life, we have to actually get to free agency first. The NBA Draft is set get underway on November 18, and there's always a chance that a trade opportunity could come up that helps the Mavs upgrade at a higher level than what Gallinari brings to the table. For now, though, we know the Mavs are, at the very least, interested in the idea of adding Gallinari to the mix, and we know Gallinari has some level of interest himself, being that the two sides were in contract extension discussions earlier this year. And according to Gallinari himself on Twitter, it appears another thing we know is that he won't be returning to Oklahoma City next season.

Stay tuned to in the coming weeks as we continue to monitor the situation.