The Celtics were resting a tad easier by Sunday afternoon after an MRI taken of Danilo Gallinari’s sore left knee revealed a torn meniscus instead of ligament damage.
The new Celtics forward suffered the non-contact injury after landing awkwardly during a World Cup qualifying game between Italy and Georgia on Saturday. Gallinari had to be helped from the floor and into the locker room, and seemed as relieved as his new team when he tweeted on Sunday that the injury was a “meniscus lesion.”
(071222 Boston, MA): The Boston Celtics introduce new player Danilo Gallinari during a press conference at the Auerbach Center on Tuesday,July 12, 2022 in Allston, MA. (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)
Gallinari expressed disappointment at not being able to play in next month’s EuroBasket tournament, though from a Celtics perspective there’s now a question of Gallinari’s readiness for the start of training camp in late September.
The 34-year-old forward has experienced worse over the course of his career, including a torn ACL in April 2013 that forced him to miss the entire 2013-14 season with Denver.
Gallinari’s availability now depends on the severity of the tear, with Rob Williams’ return from a torn meniscus after minor surgery and a four-week absence considered a best-case scenario. The Celtics center rejoined the team for Game 3 of its first-round series against Brooklyn and played under a minutes restriction the rest of the way, with increasing success.
Williams’ tear was considered minor, and the surgery involved “snipping” the meniscus. But a more serious tear may require repair and thus a longer window for return.
Chicago’s Lonzo Ball, who has now had two meniscus surgeries and was unable to return for the playoffs, only played 35 games last year as the result of the injury — nothing past mid-January.
The injury has a painful familiarity for Gallinari, whose career has been limited by frequent injury. But the timing of the injury, coming as it does roughly a month before the start of training camp, puts the Celtics in a position of being able to wait for the veteran shooter to heal up.
Though frontcourt bigs like Noah Vonleh and Bruno Caboclo have been invited to camp, none have Gallinari’s significant offensive talent. When healthy, he’ll give the Celtics the kind of spot-up shooting and playmaking depth they sorely lacked during their elimination by Golden State in the NBA Finals.