All is physically well for Danilo Gallinari, clearing the way for the Clippers forward to play in an exhibition game Saturday.
Why is it significant for him to play in the NBA Africa Game 2018 in Pretoria, South Africa? Because Gallinari was the poster child for a Clippers team that was decimated by injuries last season, his 2017-18 campaign limited to a paltry 21 games.
The summer has allowed his body to heal from hand and glute injuries that derailed the 6-foot-10 Italian’s maiden season with the Clippers.
Gallinari plans on showing he’s healthy and ready to prosper while playing for Team World against Team Africa at Sun Arena at Time Square.
“Of course I will play. I got to show you some of the Gallo magic,” said Gallinari, laughing, during a conference call Wednesday with reporters. “Yeah, yeah, everything is good. I’m very excited. I’m healthy now, body is good. So I can’t wait to start.”
Gallinari as well as other NBA players and league officials participated in the 16th edition of Basketball Without Borders Africa camp in Johannesburg leading up the game.
Gallinari said his first involvement with the camp was in Senegal in 2010.
He was joined this time in South Africa by Clippers assistant general manager Mark Hughes.
The Lakers are represented by forward Luol Deng, who is from South Sudan and will play for Team Africa, center JaVale McGee, who will play for Team World, and general manager Rob Pelinka.
“This camp is special to me because I was a camper and now I’m approaching the 11th season in the NBA,” Gallinari said. “It’s an amazing story, I think. Now to be the NBA player that gets to coach the little kids and talk to them and enjoy time with them, I think is just amazing.”
Gallinari signed a three-year, $65-million contract with the Clippers in a three-team, sign-and-trade deal with the Denver Nuggets and Atlanta Hawks.
He was fraught with injuries from the beginning of his time with the Clippers, sidelined because of a left glute injury nine games into the season.
The season ended with Gallinari sitting out 18 games after he fractured his right hand, coming back to play in two games and then sitting out the final five because of soreness in his right hand.
“I’ve been focusing on my body first, working a lot in the gym, in the weight room,” Gallinari said. “I’ve been doing some basketball, but my main focus is my body, just like every summer. Everything else will come.”
He was effective during his short stint with the Clippers, averaging 15.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game.
The Clippers did not advance to the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons, injuries taking a toll during a 42-40 campaign.
If they are to challenge for a postseason berth this season in the loaded Western Conference, Gallinari knows that his health and that of his teammates is paramount.
“Unfortunately last year we had a lot of injuries throughout the whole team and the whole season so we never actually played together the whole team,” Gallinari said. “So, we are very excited and healthy and ready to go. We can’t wait.”
The Clippers officially announced that Rex Kalamian will be an assistant on coach Doc Rivers’ staff, joining the team in the same capacity he had in Toronto. Casey Hill, who was coach of the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario, was promoted to an assistant with the Clippers; Natalie Nakase was promoted to the Clippers’ player development team and Brian Adams will become coach of the development team in Ontario.
NBA AFRICA GAME 2018 ROSTERS
Saturday at 8 a.m. PDT (ESPN2) in Pretoria, South Africa.
Player, Team. Country, Pos., Ht., Wt.
Al-Farouq Aminu,Portland Trail Blazers, U.S. (parents from Nigeria), F, 6-9, 220
Bismack Biyombo, Charlotte Hornets, Democratic Republic of the Congo, C, 6-9, 255
Luol Deng, Lakers, South Sudan, F, 6-9, 220
Cheick Diallo, New Orleans Pelicans, Mali, F, 6-9, 220
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers, Cameroon, C, 7-0, 250
Evan Fournier, Orlando Magic, France (parent from Algeria), G-F, 6-7, 205
Serge Ibaka, Toronto Raptors, Republic of the Congo, F, 6-10, 235
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Oklahoma City Thunder, France (parent from DRC), G-F, 6-6, 200
Ian Mahinmi, Washington Wizards, France (parent from Benin), C, 6-11, 260
Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors, Cameroon, F, 6-9, 230
Coach: Miami Heat assistant Juwan Howard
Player, Team, Country, Pos., Ht., Wt.
John Collins, Atlanta Hawks, United States, F-C, 6-10, 235
JaVale McGee, Lakers, United States, C, 7-0, 270
Dennis Smith Jr., Dallas Mavericks, United States, G, 6-3, 195
Marvin Williams, Charlotte Hornets, United States, F, 6-9, 235
Harrison Barnes, Dallas Mavericks, United States, F, 6-8, 225
Danilo Gallinari, Clippers, Italy, F, 6-10, 225
Rudy Gay, San Antonio Spurs, United States, F, 6-8, 230
Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks, United States, F, 6-8, 235
Hassan Whiteside, Miami Heat, United States, C, 7-0, 265