Friday, June 16, 2023

Report: Danilo Gallinari exercises player option, will return to Celtics

Danilo Gallinari will return to the Celtics following his lone injured season rehabbing a torn ACL.

The veteran forward will look to make his C's debut during the 2023-24 campaign, as he reportedly exercised his $6.8 million player option -- according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. 

The 35-year-old sharpshooter was brought in to provide scoring and playmaking off the bench, something the 2022-23 Celtics roster could have used during the postseason when the offense became stagnant. Gallinari sustained his knee injury during a FIBA qualifying game playing for his native Italy just weeks after signing a two-year, $13 million deal with Boston.

Though it appeared that his season was over before it got started, Gallinari was hopeful he could contribute at some point to the Celtics -- even as the playoffs got underway.

Ultimately, Boston's season ended in a Game 7 blowout loss at the hands of the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, before Gallinari could ever suit up.

In the days following the Celtics being eliminated, Gallinari released a statement expressing optimism of a return to Boston ahead of the start of the 2023-24 season.
"My 15th season in NBA is over," Gallinari wrote via a social media post. "I would have liked to play. I would have liked to have debuted in this jersey in front of these amazing fans. I would have liked to help my teammates. And I would have liked to have seen us until the end. 

"It will take a while to accept this defeat. We believed in it until the last minute and gave everything as a group. From tomorrow the head and legs will work to prepare for next season. Season number 16 in a league that always knows how to give me emotions that I will never get used to."
While it remains uncertain what kind of role Gallinari will play given his age and any sort of limitations due to his second torn ACL in the same knee, he's determined to play out his contract and hopefully help the Celtics get over the hump to hang banner 18.

Gallinari in his last full season (2021-22) with the Atlanta Hawks, he averaged 11.7 points per contest on 38.1% shooting from 3-point range. 

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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