Danilo Gallinari recently appeared on Radio 1 Rai, an Italian radio show, and he provided insight about his end of career plans. Gallinari intends to finish his career in Italy playing for Olimpia Milano, the club where he spent two years before joining the New York Knicks in the NBA. As a young player, Danilo tore up Italian basketball with his smooth, silky scoring. Gallinari was named League MVP in 2008 but he did not manage to take Olimpia Milano to the league title or European glory. I would imagine that Gallinari feels that he has unfinished business with Milan. It is a club which his family has long been associated with.
Gallinari’s desire to play at home to end his career is not that unusual among sporting circles. Paul Pierce chose to sign a one-day contract with Boston so that he could retire as a Celtics, the franchise which defined him for large portions of his career. It can be tough for international players to maintain contact with friends and family back home while they play in the league. The regular season schedule does not afford any downtime and the long distance makes it difficult to have meaningful relationships with loved ones, it is simply not possible to catch a flight at home and see family during the season. In Gallinari’s case, his family is split between Denver and the Lombardy region of Italy. His father spends eight months in the year managing Gallinari’s restaurant in Colorado but his mother and grandparents still reside in Italy. In the deeply uncertain time that we currently face, it is easy to see why Gallinari would like to finish his career at home, he would be able to spend time with those close to him.
I still believe that it will be a decent while before Danilo Gallinari considers leaving the NBA behind for European competition. Gallinari, aged thirty one, still has another good few years in the league where he can contribute on contending teams. Gallo’s versatility as a forward and his efficient shooting from outside is highly desirable in today’s NBA and I expect a lot of teams to chase after his services. It is easy to see Gallinari’s role on a team like the Milwaukee Bucks, he would not be a primary option on offence but his floor-spacing and ability to create with the ball will stretch the floor even further. Giannis Antetokounmpo would have so much space inside to attack the rim and teams will be unable to send waves of players at Antetokounmpo.
Gallinari’s preferred choice, Olimpia Milano, is closely linked to the Gallinari family. Danilo played for the team but so did his father. Vittorio Gallinari played for Olimpia during the late 1980s during a dominant period for the Milan side. Vittorio was primarily a defensive specialist for the team as they won every single trophy in Italian basketball. Fun fact, Vittorio Gallinari was team-mates with Mike D’Antoni who played for Milan in the same time period. There is an emotional animus for Gallo to return and bring Milan back to European glory.
While I do not expect Gallinari to return home for at least three years, it would be pretty fun to see Danilo Gallinari playing in European competition again. His skill-set should mean that he is one of the best players in Euroleague competition, even in the twilight of his career. However, the narrow courts and aggressive pressure defences could make life hell for a player like Gallinari who can be ponderous on the ball. It would be interesting to watch a really good NBA player test himself in a fairly unknown arena.