Danilo Gallinari Adidas Eurocamp - Day 3

Danilo Gallinari not yet 100 percent, may not be ready for start of Nuggets training camp


TREVISO, Italy — It seems like a relative eternity since we’ve seen Danilo Gallinari in uniform for the Denver Nuggets, after he suffered a knee injury near the end of the 2013 season that didn’t heal as expected, and required a second surgery in January that kept him sidelined for all 82 games this year.

And he may not be ready for the start of next season, either.

Gallinari was in attendance for adidas Eurocamp, and said that while he’s feeling better physically, he’s not yet to the point where he can workout fully, even though his last surgery took place almost six months ago.

“I’m not 100 percent yet,” Gallinari told NBCSports.com. “I haven’t done any contact (drills), I haven’t played any pickup games or anything like that, so that’s the goal for the summer.”

When asked if he’d be ready for training camp, Gallinari sounded uncertain, but is keeping a positive outlook.

“I’m not sure, but I think I will,” he said. “We are trying to set up some goals, but in my mind it’s to be ready for training camp. It may happen, it may not, but I think it will happen.”

That’s not entirely inspiring for a Denver team that saw injuries derail its chances fairly early on. In addition to the loss of Gallinari, Javale McGee was lost for the season after just five games with a stress fracture in his leg, Nate Robinson was lost midway through the year with a knee injury, and J.J. Hickson and Ty Lawson suffered injuries that similarly sidelined them later in the season.

“It’s something you never want to have, when you have three of the five starters out the whole season,” Gallinari said. “Clearly, if you take out, I don’t know, Duncan, Ginobili, Parker or Leonard from the Spurs, it’s not the same Spurs. Clearly, it was not the same Nuggets. But I think with a healthy team we can do some damage in the Western Conference.”

Gallinari is under contract for two more years and a little more than $22 million. He averaged a career best 16.2 points in 2013, to go along with 5.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 32.5 minutes per contest.

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at NBA.com.

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.