Memorable week for Nuggets rising star Gallinari

Career night in New York followed up by contract extension

It’s been one heck of a week for Danilo Gallinari.

Four days after scoring a career-high 37 points against his former team, Gallinari signed a multi-year extension with the Nuggets on Wednesday. The deal is widely reported to be worth $42 million over four years.

By securing Gallinari through the 2015-16 season, the Nuggets continue to stabilize their long-term future. Starting center Nene signed a five-year contract on Dec. 14 and starting shooting guard Arron Afflalo agreed to his own five-year deal on Dec. 20.

Add the Dec. 13 trade that brought Corey Brewer and Rudy Fernandez to Denver for a second-round pick and Nuggets executive vice president Masai Ujiri is an early frontrunner for NBA Executive of the Year.

The decision to re-invest in Gallinari was as easy one for Ujiri and the Nuggets, who acquired the 23-year-old from the New York Knicks as part of a 13-player, three-team trade last Feb. 22.

After staying sharp during the offseason playing for Italy’s national team and Emporio Armani Milano of the Italian League, Gallinari is in the midst of a breakout season with Denver.

After scoring 23 points Wednesday against Sacramento, he is averaging a team-leading 17.7 points and career-highs in nearly every other statistical category. Denver coach George Karl has utilized Gallinari in various capacities at both ends of the floor, asking him to be a playmaker, shooter and perimeter defender.

“Gallo seems to like the role and enjoy the responsibility,” Karl said earlier this season. “He’s made a step forward in being responsible and being a good player and taking more responsibility on both ends of the court.”

Gallinari presents a difficult matchup because of his ability to knock down the three-point shot or attack the rim on any given possession. When defenses collapse in the paint, his court vision enables him to find the open man; Gallinari is averaging a career-high 2.8 assists.

The well-rounded game fits perfectly with Karl’s system built around playmakers who can read defenses and make quick decisions. It also puts Gallinari in position to represent the Nuggets at the NBA All-Star Game in Orlando on Feb. 24.

With or without an All-Star invitation, Gallinari is primed to turn a heck of a week into a heck of a year.

Aaron Lopez
Aaron J. Lopez is the primary writer for, providing behind-the-scenes content, including feature stories and video for the site. Before joining the Nuggets in 2009, he spent 15 years covering Colorado sports for the Rocky Mountain News and the Associated Press, making him one of the longest-tenured sports writers in Denver. Aaron's full bio...