5 key questions facing the OKC Thunder at trade deadline

Danilo Gallinari, head coach Billy Donovan, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Dennis Schroder, and Steven Adams of the OKC Thunder huddle vs 76ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Danilo Gallinari, head coach Billy Donovan, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Dennis Schroder, and Steven Adams of the OKC Thunder huddle vs 76ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
Danilo Gallinari #8 of the OKC Thunder shoots a free throw during the game against the Indiana Pacers (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Should Presti trade Gallo or keep him?

Perhaps the biggest challenge for the club resides in what the team elects to do with Danilo Gallinari.

It’s been an ongoing narrative at Thunderous Intentions Sam Presti should do whatever he can to retain Gallo. Since Kevin Durant departed the furious search to find a stretch four has arguably been the franchise’s greatest challenge. Gallinari hasn’t just fulfilled that need he’s feasting in OKC.

Per Game Table
Season Tm G FGA FG% 3PA 3P% eFG% FT% TRB AST PTS
2018-19 LAC 68 13.0 .463 5.5 .433 .554 .904 6.1 2.6 19.8
2019-20 OKC 42 13.4 .441 7.4 .410 .554 .906 5.7 2.3 19.2
Career 591 11.4 .427 5.2 .380 .513 .873 4.9 2.1 16.1

Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/2/2020.

His shooting consistency is incredible and the fan base is getting spoiled by having a player who simply doesn’t take or force bad shots. On any given night the Italian finds ways to make a difference beyond shooting such as rebounding or playmaking. Losing Gallo will hurt and yet with him being in his final contract season, the running narrative is his inevitable trade or at a minimum, he’s the most likely candidate to be traded at the deadline.

Last season, Nikola Mirotic netted four second-round draft picks and the Bucks often couldn’t even keep him on the floor based on his defensive shortcomings.

Gallo said this past summer his priority in free agency will not be salary based. Rather, his desire to hoist Larry O’B will take precedence. Again, that might have some thinking it’s a foregone conclusion Gallo will be traded to ensure OKC gets value for him prior to an eventual departure.

But— are we sure the forward’s departure is definitively going to happen? If nothing else this season has already proven the Thunder aren’t far off being among the elite with an ever-improving Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on the club.

No doubt there will be conversations to discuss Gallo’s interest in re-signing with OKC as well as his openness to go the sign and trade route. The latter would allow the team to continue contending this season and find a landing place for him in the summer that would meet his needs and simultaneously allow the Thunder to get back assets (or picks) in return.

How open the Italian is to these scenarios will dictate Presti’s actions. The GM has a great reputation for his relationships with players and that could factor large in this specific situation. Although the priority is to get the best value for the forward it behooves the franchise to try to make everyone happy. Players talk and if they feel like the Thunder front office is fair and isn’t just driven by their own needs it helps. That’s important in a small market that aren’t typically at the top of players’ shortlists when considering their free agency.

Ultimately, Presti will listen to what is sure to be copious inquiries for the forward and he’ll make the best decision. If it’s a talent-rich deal the GM simply can’t ignore he’ll make the deal.

As for specifics – watch in the coming days for an article diving into potential trade destinations and trade packages for Gallinari.