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Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari intends to pass on the $16.1 million player option on his 2017-18 contract and become an unrestricted free agent this summer, league sources told The Vertical.
Gallinari will become one of the top available forwards in the July marketplace, but league sources say that he remains open to the possibility of returning to the Nuggets on a long-term deal.
Denver GM Tim Connelly has expressed a strong desire to keep Gallinari as part of the franchise’s core.
Gallinari is part of a free-agent forward class that includes the Clippers’ Blake Griffin, Utah’s Gordon Hayward and Atlanta’s Paul Millsap.
For Gallinari, 28, the move into free agency gives him a chance to lock in the security of a multiyear contract. Gallinari was a significant part of Denver’s push for the Western Conference playoffs in 2016-17, averaging 18.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists this season. Gallinari averaged 19.5 points in the 2015-16 season.
After a knee injury and surgery that cost him the 2013-14 season, Gallinari has re-established the durability of his knee in the past two seasons and possesses a 3-point acumen that makes him a desired commodity in free agency.
Gallinari was the sixth overall pick of the New York Knicks in the 2008 NBA draft, playing two-plus seasons there until moving to the Nuggets in 2011 as part of the Carmelo Anthony trade.
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