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Danilo Gallinari might not return. Here’s why that’s a good thing for the Thunder

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Oklahoma City Thunder v Houston Rockets - Game Seven Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Pending free agent Danilo Gallinari seemingly confirmed in a tweet Tuesday that he will not return to Oklahoma City.

This should not be that big of a surprise to Thunder fans as the 32-year-old made it known last week that he would rather compete for a championship than have one final big payday.

The Thunder and Gallinari are heading in different directions in terms of competing. The former is looking to rebuild while the latter is entering the final years of his prime.

OKC almost traded Gallinari to the Heat during the trade deadline, but both parties disagreed on the extension’s length.

Miami wants to have money freed up for the 2021 FA class that MVP winner Giannis Antetokounmpo headlines. Because of this, the Heat would instead not add an extra salary on their 2021-and-beyond payrolls.

The Thunder can still get something back for Gallinari by helping facilitate a sign-and-trade with Danilo and the team he wants to sign with. The unknown financial environment surrounding the league due to COVID can make this option a more appealing one for teams.

Gallinari’s 2019-20 base salary was $22.6 million, which was 49th overall among players. This was an excellent value salary for a player like Gallinari, and it is safe to expect he would command a similar salary on his next contract.

The only teams who could outright sign Gallinari at a decent salary are the Hawks, Knicks, Pistons, Kings, Pelicans, and Hornets. None of these teams look like they will contend for a championship in the immediate future.

This is where the Thunder can come in and take some contracts back from a contending team that wants to sign Gallinari. Oklahoma City can make the money work between Danilo and Team X if Team X is willing to sweeten the deal by attaching picks or young players on rookie contracts.

Gallinari was great for the Thunder this past season, averaging 18.7 PPG on an efficient 61.2 TS%, including shooting 40.5% from three on over seven attempts a game. Danilo is one of those players who will fit in seamlessly on any team as he is excellent at creating his shot and shooting off of passes.