February 22, 2011 is a date that will go down as franchise altering for the Denver Nuggets. That was the date that Carmelo Anthony was finally traded to the New York Knicks after holding the team hostage for the better part of the 2010-11 NBA season. The centerpiece coming to Denver in that deal was Danilo Gallinari, who at the time was a 22-year-old with sky-high potential.
Fast forward to this past spring, as the Nuggets hosted the Dallas Mavericks. Gallinari went down with a gruesome right knee injury that would end arguably his best NBA season yet. It could be debated that Gallo’s knee injury was another franchise-altering moment for Denver. Following the loss of Gallinari, the Nuggets were defeated in the first round of the playoffs by the Golden State Warriors. The playoff exit lead to many dominoes falling in Denver, including the dismissal of George Karl and the departure of Andre Iguodala.
It now appears that Gallinari’s injury was not as severe as previously thought and he should return before the New Year. This is fantastic news for the Nuggets who are in a state of flux following the unpredictable roller coaster that this summer has been. Denver definitely needs Danilo to stabilize the team after all of the inexplicable roster moves.
More than ever, Gallinari needs to show what he is capable of being and live up to his potential for the Nuggets. If for no other reason than to inflate his trade value and net Denver the superstar talent that they have been sorely missing since Anthony’s exit. Gallinari must prove that he is capable of leading this team to the next level alongside point guard Ty Lawson, otherwise Denver must cut ties and package Gallo for a bona fide star.