Report: As expected, Nuggets’ Danilo Gallinari will opt into free agency this summer

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When Danilo Gallinari can stay healthy and on the court, he’s the kind of guy a lot of teams could use — a 6’10” wing player who shot 38.7 percent from three last season, he can catch-and-shoot or create his own shot off the bounce, and he’s a solid defender against threes or fours. He averaged 18.2 points and 5.3 rebounds a game for the Nuggets last season. In the 63 games he played.  And that’s the issue — that’s the most he’s played in four seasons.

Because of his production, there is going to be a healthy market for Gallinari, which is why he was always expected to opt out of the final year of his deal with Denver — where he is owed $16.1 million — and test the market. He will do just that reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari intends to pass on the $16.1 million player option on his 2017-18 contract and become an unrestricted free agent this summer, league sources told The Vertical.

Gallinari will become one of the top available forwards in the July marketplace, but league sources say that he remains open to the possibility of returning to the Nuggets on a long-term deal.

Gallinari will be in the second tier of free agent forwards, but teams that strike out trying to land Blake Griffin, Gordon Hayward, or Paul Millsap (and all three of those players may take max offers to stay where they are) will likely pick up the phone and call about Gallinari. (I would expect Denver to put out feelers to Millsap.)

That said, Gallinari was a fantastic fit with Nikola Jokic — when those two were on the court together last season the Nuggets outscored opponents by 8.2 points per 100 possessions. His ability to space the floor is a perfect fit with Jokic’s vision and passing.  Plus, with those two on the court the defense was mildly improved over the team’s woeful average.

It will not be cheap, but Denver may choose to pay up and keep Gallinari. Then hope that he can just stay healthy and on the court.