Boston Celtics forward Danilo Gallinari could miss most or all of the upcoming NBA season, according to reports, after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee last week.

Gallinari was injured playing for Italy in a FIBA World Cup qualifying game against Georgia on Saturday. The Italian national team later announced the veteran sharpshooter sustained a torn meniscus, without providing further details.

ESPN reported on Friday that Gallinari was hopeful of returning late in the 2022-23 season. Typical recovery time for an ACL tear is anywhere from six to 12 months.

The Celtics confirmed on Twitter on Friday: "Danilo Gallinari has been diagnosed with a torn ACL in his left knee. Gallinari sustained the injury while playing for his home nation of Italy in a FIBA World Cup qualifier against Georgia on August 27. Further updates will be provided as appropriate."

Gallinari previously tore the ACL in the same knee while playing for the Denver Nuggets late in the 2012-13 season. That injury required an additional surgery that sidelined him for the entire 2013-14 campaign.

The 34-year-old signed a two-year, $13.3million contract with Boston in July, just days after being waived by San Antonio. Gallinari was acquired by the Spurs from Atlanta on June 30 as part of the trade that sent All-Star point guard Dejounte Murray to the Hawks.

Gallinari, who averaged 11.7 points and 4.7 rebounds in 66 games with the Hawks last season, was being counted on to provide bench scoring for a Celtics team coming off an appearance in the NBA Finals.

He also took to Twitter on Friday to post a statement, saying: "This has been a tough week for me as I have learned the extent of my injury. This game means everything to me and not being able to be on the court with my Celtics teammates hurts.

"I plan to give everything I can to the Celtics organisation and my teammates as we hunt for a title. I will work tirelessly with the Celtics staff to return to the court as soon as I can and I appreciate the unwavering support from the fans, my teammates, and the entire NBA family."

The 13-year veteran is one of only six players to average at least 15 points per game and shoot 40 per cent or better from three-point range over the last four seasons (min. 100 games), along with 2022 All-Stars Stephen Curry and Karl Anthony-Towns, Kyrie Irving, T.J. Warren and Bojan Bogdanovic.

The Indiana Pacers have agreed to trade point guard Malcolm Brogdon to the Boston Celtics, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Friday, bolstering the backcourt of the reigning Eastern Conference champions. 

Indiana are getting a 2023 first-round draft pick from the Celtics, along with Daniel Theis, Aaron Nesmith, Nik Stauskas, Malik Fitts and Juwan Morgan. 

The Celtics set out to find a traditional point guard this offseason after last season's NBA Finals run came up short largely due to a high turnover rate.  Boston committed 353 turnovers during their 24-game playoff run, the most since the 2003 San Antonio Spurs (365). 

Jayson Tatum was responsible for 100 of those turnovers, the most by a player in a single postseason since the league started tracking turnovers in 1977-78.

Brogdon averaged 19.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.9 assists last season for Indiana but was limited to just 36 games by a lingering injury to his right Achilles tendon. 

A second round pick out of Virginia, Brogdon spent his first three seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks and won Rookie of the Year in 2016-17. He has spent the past three seasons with the Pacers. 

Even after acquiring Brogdon, Boston top executive Brad Stevens may not be done adding to the Celtics' roster.

ESPN reported earlier on Friday that veteran forward Danilo Gallinari – who was traded to the Spurs and was then to be waived – has identified Boston as his preferred landing spot. 

The San Antonio Spurs appear committed to their rebuild after it was announced they plan to waive newly acquired forward Danilo Gallinari and withdraw their qualifying offer for Lonnie Walker IV.

Gallinari was brought over to the Spurs in this week's blockbuster trade, which sent Dejounte Murray to the Atlanta Hawks for Gallinari and three first-round draft picks.

The move to trade Murray – their 25-year-old point guard who was named an All-Star for the first time in 2022 – indicated a shift towards the future and a commitment to not being competitive for at least a season or two in order to maximise their draft equity.

Gallinari, at 33 years old, does not fit in with the Spurs' timeline and may not have had enough value to command any draft picks back as a trade chip, so the team have instead opted to buy out his contract – which had one more season and $21.5million remaining.

The move makes Gallinari an unrestricted free agent, meaning he can come to an agreement with any team who have cap space.

Walker, who was a first-round pick by the Spurs in 2018, averaged a career-high in points (12.2) and assists (2.2) this past season, but with plenty of young guard options remaining on the roster, San Antonio opted to withdraw their qualifying offer.

The qualifying offer meant Walker was a restricted free agent, giving the Spurs the option to match any offer tendered to him, which also restricts how many teams view it as a chase worth their time, as the expectation is often that the team will match them.

By withdrawing their qualifying offer, Walker is now an unrestricted free agent, able to choose his own path forward.

Walker is still only 23, so to allow him to walk indicates that he had no trade value at all and that the organisation have decided he is not part of their plans as they prepare for a couple of years near the bottom of the Western Conference.

At the onset of the season, the Atlanta Hawks were a trendy pick to be a team that could fight their way into the playoffs and be tough to eliminate in a postseason series. 

Sure, they finished mere percentage points ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers for the worst record in the Eastern Conference last season, but with the returning core of All-Star Trae Young, John Collins and De'Andre Hunter, plus the offseason additions of Clint Capela, Danilo Gallinari, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Rajon Rondo, there was plenty of reason to believe the Hawks could capture their first playoff berth since 2017 in a top-heavy yet mostly mediocre Eastern Conference.

Injuries to Hunter, Gallinari and Bogdanovic, however, stunted Atlanta's growth, and the team sputtered over the season's first two months. And with another blown fourth-quarter lead in a loss to Southeast Division rivals the Miami Heat on February 28, the Hawks' record dropped to 14-20 as they slid into 11th place in the East, prompting team president Travis Schlenk to fire coach Lloyd Pierce less than halfway into his third season at the helm.

Schlenk believed the season could be salvaged and needed a new voice, promoting assistant Nate McMillan to interim coach.

The Hawks have responded.

They've since compiled a 13-5 record – behind only the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers among East clubs – to move into a virtual tie for the Southeast lead with the Charlotte Hornets, and into fifth place in the conference. They have also navigated around a recent injury to Collins, going 4-1 since he sprained his left ankle.

There are several reasons for Atlanta's surge, but it's no coincidence the turnaround under McMillan has coincided with the return of Bogdanovic.

Lured away from the Sacramento Kings on a four-year, $72million deal, Bogdanovic looked like a bust early, averaging 9.9 points on 38.5 per cent shooting and 36.2 per cent on three-point attempts in his first nine games, before missing the next 25 through the end of February with a sprained knee.

After working out the rust over a few games upon returning, Bogdanovic has found his shot and is thriving.

Since March 24, his 66.4 eFG (effective field goal) percentage ranks third in the NBA among the 99 players with a minimum of 75 attempts, while his 53.3 per cent shooting from beyond the arc ranks fifth among the 92 shooters with at least 35 three-point tries.

He was inserted into the starting lineup on March 26, and with Bogdanovic and Young together on the court, the Hawks have been lethal, averaging 117.1 points per 100 possessions, 49.4 per cent shooting and 45.7 per cent on three-pointers. Without them, they are averaging 102.7 points per 100 possessions, 41.7 per cent on field goals and 33.3 per cent on threes.

Bogdanovic has been especially deadly from the wing since McMillan tabbed him as a starter. Since March 26, his 21 three-pointers from the wing is just one fewer than Miami's Duncan Robinson for the league lead, while his 46.7 per cent shooting from the wing ranks fourth among the 47 players with a minimum of 25 attempts.

Young's scoring has dropped since Bogdanovic cracked the starting five (20.9 ppg since March 26 after previously averaging 25.8 ppg), but he's been distributing the ball to his teammates a little more (10.4 assists per game since March 26 after previously averaging 9.4 apg).

Since March 26, Young has assisted on 20 made baskets by Bogdanovic – the most by a guard to a single teammate – and 16 by Capela.

The Young-to-Capela show is nothing new, however, as Young has fed Capela on 99 made baskets on the season – fourth-most by any player to a teammate. Atop that list is Young’s 121 assists to Collins, and the Hawks are hopeful the two can add to this number as early as next week with Collins back practising.

Capela has had more opportunities inside with Collins sidelined, but really, he's been a beast in the paint all season.

The league's top offensive rebounder at 4.8 per game, Capela is third in the NBA in second-chance scoring at 4.6 points per game (minimum 20 games played).

His production in the interior has also increased with Bogdanovic starting, as he has been averaging 6.7 dunks and layups per game since March 26 – second in the league behind Zion Williamson's average of 10.6 per game. Prior to March 26, Capela averaged 5.5 dunks and layups per game.

Like Bogdanovic, Gallinari also got off to a sluggish start to the season and also dealt with an ailment, missing 12 games with multiple foot injuries. But also, similarly to Bogdanovic, he's found his stroke.

After averaging 11.2 points on 38.6 per cent shooting from the floor and 37.8 per cent from beyond the arc in his first 23 games, Gallinari is averaging 16.3 points on 47.6 per cent shooting – including 43.5 per cent on threes in his last 15. He's been one of the league's best at connecting on three-pointers from the wing since March 1, draining 47.1 per cent – the fourth-highest rate in the league among the 77 players with 50 or more attempts.

Gallinari hasn't been the only contributor off the bench for the Hawks over the last week.

At the trade deadline, the Hawks shipped Rondo to the Los Angeles Clippers for 16-year veteran Lou Williams to provide another scorer off the bench. The three-time Sixth Man of the Year Award winner is averaging 13.2 points and 3.4 assists in four games, rejuvenating the reserves since making his Hawks debut on April 1.

With Williams on board, Atlanta's bench ranks fifth in scoring (43.6 ppg), ninth in shooting (46.8 per cent) and second in three-point shooting (53.8 per cent) since the start of April. Prior to April, the bench ranked 27th in scoring (31.7 ppg), 30th in shooting (40.3 per cent) and 16th in three-point shooting (35.9 per cent).

While the Hawks have become healthier – despite the recent injury to Collins – and are getting more production from their bench, they are also showing a proficiency at closing out games. Instead of wilting late, they are now flourishing.

The loss to the Heat on February 28 marked the 11th setback of the season for Atlanta in a game in which they led in the fourth quarter, and only league-worst Minnesota had more through the end of February with 12. Since the beginning of March, however, the Hawks are 13-2 when holding a fourth-quarter lead, and only the Denver Nuggets (15), Brooklyn Nets (14) and Phoenix Suns (14) have more such victories.

The Hawks' recent fourth-quarter figures are startling. Their PPG average has been 27.7 since March 1 after being 27.1 previously, representing a small improvement. Yet in that same period their opponents have averaged just 24.3 fourth-quarter points compared to 29.0 in the first 34 games of the season, Atlanta's three-point percentage has switched from 34.8 per cent before March to 41.9 per cent during the games since, and their PPG differential has switched up from being minus 1.9 prior to the upturn to plus 3.4 in their subsequent outings.

That means in terms of fourth-quarter progression they have gone from being 15th in PPG in games before March to eighth since, from 29th to second in opposition PPG, from 19th to second in three-point percentage, and from 29th to first place in PPG/difference.

Atlanta have played their way into a playoff position, and now the trick is staying there. One advantage the Hawks have going for them, though, is they have a relatively easy path the rest of the way.

Through the end of February when the team fired Pierce, Atlanta had the eighth-toughest strength of schedule (.512 opponents' winning percentage). The Hawks then made their push since the beginning of March with a schedule that was the eighth easiest (.478), and now they have the sixth-easiest schedule through the rest of the season (.480).

LeBron James was left helpless as the Utah Jazz destroyed the Los Angeles Lakers, 114-89, with the defending champions slipping to a fourth straight loss.

James was the game's top scorer with 19 points while six Jazz players hit double-figures, with Rudy Gobert and Jordan Clarkson dropping 18, and the NBA leaders raced away with this contest between two championship contenders.

Utah stormed to a 16-point half-time lead before restricting the Lakers to a season-low 17-point third quarter, and the hosts once again set the bar high from downtown, shooting 22 threes, including a franchise-high 14 in the first half.

The lifeless Lakers offered little resistance while slipping to their biggest loss of the season as the Western Conference leaders cruised to a 22nd win in 24 games.

The Jazz's league-leading 15-2 home record improves them to 26-6 overall.

With Anthony Davis joined by Dennis Schroder on the sidelines, Montrezl Harrell (16 points) and Markieff Morris (12 points) were the only other Lakers players to hit double-figures as their record fell to 22-11.

Gallinari writes Hawks and NBA history

Danilo Gallinari set an Atlanta Hawks franchise record of 10 three-pointers in the 127-112 win against the Boston Celtics.

The Italian veteran had the best shooting day of his career, burying 13 of his 16 attempts from the field, while putting up a personal-best 38 points. 

Siakam ineffective for Raps

Pascal Siakam was only able to put up five points from his 24 minutes on court in the Toronto Raptors' 116-108 defeat by the Miami Heat.

The Raps center landed one of six field-goal attempts, sinking one of his three from distance and adding a pair of free throws, before being benched in the fourth quarter.

 

Dort beats the clock and comes up clutch 

Luguentz Dort's three-point buzzer-beater earned the Oklahoma City Thunder a dramatic 102-99 win over the San Antonio Spurs, after a career-high 42 points from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

The Canadian becomes only the third player in franchise history to sink a game-winning three since the move to Oklahoma, joining Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

Wednesday's results

Atlanta Hawks 127-112 Boston Celtics
Golden State Warriors 111-107 Indiana Pacers
Cleveland Cavaliers 112-96 Houston Rockets
New Orleans Pelicans 128-118 Detroit Pistons
Oklahoma City Thunder 102-99 San Antonio Spurs
Miami Heat 116-108 Toronto Raptors
Chicago Bulls 133-126 Minnesota Timberwolves
Charlotte Hornets 124-121 Phoenix Suns
Utah Jazz 114-89 Los Angeles Lakers

 

Pelicans at Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo has led the Milwaukee Bucks (19-13) to third in the east and they host the Zion Williamson-inspired New Orleans Pelicans (14-17) on Thursday.

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