Many Boston sports fans were surprised when Kristaps Porzingis trade rumors surfaced last month and ultimately led to a deal deep into the night of June 21.
It turns out Danilo Gallinari was pretty surprised to be included in the trade.
Gallinari was one of several players involved in the three-team deal involving the Celtics, Memphis Grizzlies and Washington Wizards. The Italian forward was dealt to the Wizards as part of the deal. The C's also sent Marcus Smart to the Grizzlies in the trade. Boston received Porzingis and multiple draft picks.
Gallinari didn't envision himself leaving the Celtics this summer. After suffering a torn ACL playing for Italy last August and missing the entire 2022-23 NBA season as a result, Gallinari was excited to make his C's debut in the fall. It sounds like the trade caught him off guard.
"I had a meeting with the team probably three, four days before the trade, and the meeting was a little different – the reason why I didn’t expect the trade,” Gallinari told MassLive's Garrett Cote on Wednesday at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. "I’ve been through it before many times, it’s just the craziness about the NBA sometimes. It was pretty quick and unexpected."
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The Celtics definitely could have used Gallinari's 3-point shooting prowess during the 2023 playoffs. Boston's postseason run ultimately ended in frustrating fashion with a Game 7 loss to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. All Gallinari could do was watch as the C's shot 9-for-42 from beyond the arc in the season-ending defeat.
"In terms of injuries, timing in my life has always been terrible,” Gallinari told Cote. “They always came at the wrong time. Definitely, this time came at the wrong time.
"You have the chance to sign for a team like the Celtics that are fighting for a championship, and it’s the first or second time in my career where I have the chance to be on a team that is fighting for a championship. But then the injury came. It was tough."
Unfortunately for Gallinari, his pursuit of a championship is now on hold because the Wizards are in full rebuild mode after trading Porzingis and star guard Bradley Beal this offseason. If Gallinari is healthy and starts out the 2023-24 campaign strong, maybe the Wizards could trade him to a contender at some point. Good outside shooters are always in demand.
But it must be difficult to go from one of the favorites to win the NBA Finals to a team with almost no chance of lifting the Larry O'Brien Trophy, especially for a 34-year-old veteran who doesn't have his whole career in front of him.
That's how the NBA works sometimes, though. It is, after all, a business. The opportunity to acquire a 7-foot-3, All-Star caliber center like Porzingis doesn't come around regularly.