PHOTO: Danilo Gallinari appears to confirm extension with Nuggets
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The Denver Nuggets are rebooting, not rebuilding.
Capping off what's been a somewhat inconsistent offseason, the Nuggets appear to have signed Danilo Gallinari to a contract extension.
While the team hasn't made an official declaration, the two sides were reportedly close to a two-year, $34-million extension two weeks ago. Gallinari posted a photo Friday of him and his agent signing a contract, thanking the organization and giving the impression that the deal is done.
CAPTION: We did it. Very happy day. A special thanks to the entire Nuggets organization. @nuggets #nuggetsnation.
It's an interesting but justifiable move for Denver, similar to the logic behind the extension it gave Wilson Chandler in July. The Nuggets are ostensibly rebuilding, but Gallinari is only 26, and the terms of his extension should make him eminently tradeable. He'll either fit the timeline of the new core, or he can be dealt to further the retooling efforts later.
The extension will increase Gallinari's salary for the coming season by $2.5 million, something that was only made possible when the Nuggets ducked below the salary cap by trading Ty Lawson. Gallinari is now playing on what's essentially a three-year, $45-million deal; before moving Lawson, the Nuggets could've offered no more than an effective three-year, $37.3-million deal.
For a player still rehabilitating his value after more than a season lost to injury, this additional security was probably tough to pass up, even if he sacrificed unrestricted free agency during the salary cap explosion of 2016.
In 59 games last season, Gallinari averaged 12.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.4 assists while shooting 40.1 percent from the floor. From 2009-13, he averaged 15.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 2.1 assists while shooting 41.8 percent and hitting 36.5 percent of his threes, with the skill and offensive upside to be ranked among the best small forward prospects in the game.
His recovery has been slow and, to hear him tell it, frustrating, but he closed the season on an encouraging 23-game run, averaging 19 points and shooting better than 40 percent from outside.