Danilo Gallinari Advises NBA Rookies Build Their Team Off the Court, Too

Danilo Gallinari has played on four different teams since being drafted No. 6 overall in the 2008 NBA Draft. 

While the names and faces in the locker room may have changed as he’s gone from the New York Knicks to the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers and most recently the Oklahoma City Thunder over the past 12 years, there’s one team that doesn’t change: his off-the-court support system including his parents Marilisa and Vittorio Gallinari, CPA Steve Blatt, agent Michael Tellem, and a team of financial advisors at Goldman Sachs Private Wealth Management.

In fact, it’s the biggest piece of advice Gallinari gives rookies entering the NBA and wants to reiterate to the players selected in tonight’s 2020 NBA Draft.

“To have the right team is key at the beginning to build your career on the court and off the court,” Gallinari said. “I was honestly lucky to work with the right people, especially on the financial side. I always tell the young guys you have to have your family but also the right team next to you to succeed.”

The 6-foot-10 forward from Italy whose selection by the Knicks drew a mix of cheers and boos from the crowd at Madison Square Garden the night of the 2008 NBA Draft, averaged 13.7 points per game in 157 games (124 starts) in three seasons in New York from 2008-11 before being traded to the Nuggets. Gallinari averaged 16.2 points per game in six seasons in Denver from 2011-17, despite missing part of the 2012-13 season and the entire 2013-14 campaign due to an ACL injury.

Gallinari was traded to the Clippers in 2017 and played in Los Angeles for two seasons, averaging a career-high 19.8 points per game in 2018-19, which included a stretch of nine straight games of 20+ points. He spent this past season with the Thunder (18.7 ppg) and is one of the more intriguing free agents this NBA offseason.

While Gallinari, 32, may be trading his uniform and teammates yet again, his off-court support system will continue to follow and help him navigate the world of finance, business and investing.

“I was born to be a basketball player, not to be a guy who succeeds inside Goldman Sachs,” he said with a laugh. “Everybody has their job, their speciality and talents—I can play basketball but I need somebody to help me out with my financial situation.”

Gallinari said recently he has been interested in and studying the tech and biotech sectors, and is a big fan of real estate. Thankfully his father, a former pro basketball player himself, majored in economics, so Danilo began his off-court ventures and investments with a solid knowledge base when he entered the NBA.

“The finance world in general is very, very complicated and there are so many different things that need to be evaluated, but I think at the end of the day, the most important thing is how you want to invest your money—if you want to be a short-term, mid-term or long-term investor,” he said. “That’s the biggest question you have to ask yourself. … To invest when you’re at an early age is a great advantage, being a long-term investor.”

With the average NBA career length only around five years, Gallinari stressed the importance of investing early, so one’s money can make money for them. He also said young players shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions if there’s something they don’t understand and should say “no” where appropriate.

“Only in those years playing are you going to make a huge amount of money and there’s a great chance you won’t make that much money in any other job you get the rest of your life, so you have to use those years to invest, and use that money to make more money for the future when you aren’t getting that money anymore,” Gallinari said. “That’s so crucial for the young guys to understand.”

NOTE: First appeared on Forbes SportsMoney

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