Denver Nuggets: Danilo Gallinari Biggest Loser in the Howard Trade

Charles Bennett@chasbennettonbrSenior Analyst IAugust 10, 2012

Italian-born Nuggets player Danilo Gallinari turned 24 on Wednesday. His birthday present appears to be losing his spot as the Nuggets' starting small forward.

As a result of the Dwight Howard trade ESPN is reporting, the Nuggets get Olympic swingman Andre Iguodala in exchange for Al Harrington, Arron Afflalo and a draft pick.

What with the Nuggets' loaded backcourt that includes Ty Lawson and Andre Miller, it's possible that we'd be seeing Iggy more at the 3 (his primary position for Team USA) than the 2.

Even if Iguodala plays mostly at the 2, the Nuggets also have Corey Brewer, Wilson Chandler and recent draft pick Quincy Miller to man the 3.

Gallinari, one of the biggest chips in the Carmelo Anthony trade, started his first full season in Denver incredibly strong, and would have been an All-Star if not for suffering a chronic injury at midseason. 

After the All-Star break, Gallinari was gosh-awful, averaging only 11 points on 36 percent shooting.  Despite Gallinari's repeated injuries, his relatively young age might indicate that there is a lot of life left in him.

Gallinari is owed more than $40 million in the next four years, and is the third-highest-paid player on the team this season after Iguodala ($14.9 million) and JaVale McGee ($10 million). With the apparent lack of a need for him at the 3, the Nuggets could be looking to deal Gallinari to another team in exchange for cheaper players and/or draft picks.

 

There is one plausible solution that keeps Gallinari in the lineup for the Nuggets: Move him up to the power forward position, in the slot vacated by Harrington. 

But even though Gallinari is 6'10" (a good height for the 4), he's only played the 4 sparingly and doesn't really have the skill set to play the 4 on a regular basis (for example, he averages less than five rebounds a game). 

And even without Harrington, Denver isn't devoid of options at the 4 either, as they still have Kenneth Faried and Anthony Randolph to manage the position.

Bottom line: The Dwight Howard trade that sends Andre Iguodala to Denver could mean big changes for Danilo Gallinari's role with the club. 

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