A year ago, Danilo Gallinari was getting ready for a homecoming as a member of the Knicks playing against his hometown team, Olimpia Milano of the Italian League. This year, as a result of the lockout, Gallinari is back at the Mediolanum Forum in Milan, but this time back in Milano's jersey.
According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Gallinari signed a contract today with Olimpia Milano and will immediately join them on a road trip. The move makes sense for Gallinari, who spends most of his offseason in Milan and usually trains with the Olimpia team. He is one of the franchise's most popular players in history, perhaps only overshadowed by Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni, who starred there in the 1970s and 80s and coached there in the 90s.
Gallinari's deal also comes with an out-clause to return to the NBA once the lockout ends. Gallinari is currently under contract with the Nuggets, with $4.1 million due this season, the last of his contract. He will become a restricted free agent next summer.
Gallinari played for Milan for three seasons until he was drafted sixth overall by the Knicks in the 2008 NBA Draft. He was traded last February to the Denver Nuggets as part of the blockbuster deal for Carmelo Anthony.
The Nuggets have already lost another former Knick who was part of the Carmelo trade, as Wilson Chandler opted to sign a Zhejiang Guangsha of the Chinese Basketball Association. Chandler's deal does not have an out clause because the CBA said it would only honor commitments for the full season.
Chandler is a restricted free agent and it is possible he could work out a buyout of his deal in China when the lockout ends. It remains to be seen how the NBA, which has a good relationship with the CBA, would handle such a situation. Denver also saw J.R. Smith, a free agent, sign with a Chinese team. A fourth Nuggets player, guard Ty Lawson, signed a deal to play in Lithuania, though his deal has an NBA escape clause.
So far none of the Knick players currently under contract have signed international contracts as a result of the lockout. Center Jerome Jordan, a 2010 second round pick of the Milwaukee Bucks who was acquired by the Knicks on draft night, signed a one-year contract with a Slovenian team, KK Krka, but he is believed to have an escape clause in his deal for when the lockout ends. Jordan last season played for KK Hemofarm in Serbia.
Amar'e Stoudemire has flirted with the idea of playing overseas if the lockout extends into the season, but that is unlikely. Carmelo Anthony is also not likely to play elsewhere, though he seems to be interested in barnstorming with his Melo League team, which will play this Sunday against an all-star team of Philadelphia players at the Palestra.