Wilson Chandler understands Danilo Gallinari's pain
Denver Nuggets forward now filling in for injured teammate
Chandler, a soft-spoken forward raised by his grandmother in the upper-Midwest, was entering his second NBA season with the New York Knicks when he first met Gallinari, an outgoing teenager from Italy.
They spent two-plus seasons in New York before moving to Denver in the three-team megatrade between the Knicks, Nuggets and Minnesota Timberwolves on Feb. 22, 2011.
“I’ve played with Gallo nearly my whole career,” Chandler said. “We’ve been joined at the hip. I kind of look at him as more than just a teammate.”
Chandler was understandably disappointed when Gallinari suffered a season-ending knee injury last Thursday. Based on his own experience, he could relate to the tough road Gallinari has ahead of him.
Hip surgery prevented Chandler from playing in the 2012 playoffs and sidelined him for nearly two months as he regained his strength and mobility earlier this season.
“It’s difficult,” he said. “When you know what it’s like to sit out a lot of games, it’s heartfelt.”
With Gallinari sidelined, Nuggets coach George Karl inserted Chandler in the starting lineup Saturday against the Houston Rockets. He responded with 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting in Denver’s 132-114 victory.
“Wilson gives us some very good talent and very good intangibles,” Karl said. “So does Gallo. But to be honest with you, they’re quite different. Gallo’s more of a shooter and playmaker. Wilson’s a dynamic runner and athlete.”
Chandler is well-equipped for an increased role. He has started more than 200 games in his career and is averaging 15.5 and 4.8 rebounds in four starts this season.
“It’s a great thing to have him,” teammate Kenneth Faried said. “He plays great defense and has a great offensive game. Him being on the court really boosts morale.”
Not to mention Denver’s chances of succeeding in the postseason without Chandler’s basketball brother Gallinari.