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Danilo Gallinari on ACL recovery plan: ‘I want to stay close to the team’

The path ahead won’t be easy, but Gallinari is committed to the Celtics despite what could be a season-long injury.

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Before the Ime Udoka suspension and the Robert Williams surgery, there was Danilo Gallinari’s injury. It’s been a rough stretch for the Boston Celtics, but it all began with the news that Gallinari had torn his ACL while playing for the Italian national team at EuroBasket.

Boston signed Gallinari to a two-year deal at the start of free agency with hopes that he could add shooting with size to their lineup (a slogan Danny Ainge pushed for years). But instead, he got hurt before ever suiting up in the green and white.

While the Celtics are currently focused on prepping for the upcoming season without him, Gallinari isn’t going anywhere. He said that he plans on staying in Boston during the rehab process so he can be around the team.

“I want to stay close to the team so the more I can stay with the team in Boston and when they need me to go to travel with the team, I definitely want to stay close to the team.”

When he came aboard, Gallinari was ecstatic, saying that “it was an easy choice” to join the Celtics. He even noted that he’s “had dreams” about playing in TD Garden as a Celtic. His dad was a Celtics fan growing up, watching Larry Bird dominate in Boston.

Instead, Gallinari will have to spend the upcoming season in the gym rather than on the court. Rehab will be his primary focus.

“I’m just taking it day-by-day. That’s the best way to approach a rehab and approach an injury like this, to take it day-by-day and not really think about what’s going to happen in the future. So that’s the approach that I have.”

According to Cleveland Clinic, the average length of time it takes for someone to recover from an ACL tear is six to nine months. Considering Gallinari will have to be ready for a high-usage sport, this could be a bit longer. But regardless, that would put his return timetable at anywhere from March to June. Based on that, a return this season seems unlikely, but Gallinari didn’t completely shut down the idea.

He also mentioned how hard it will be to sit idly by. That being said, his past experiences will help him along the way.

“The good and the bad thing is that I’ve been through this already, so I know what to expect. But it’s always tough, especially when you approach a situation like this, coming to play for the Celtics, ready to help the team winning. It’s tough, but nothing I can do about it. We’re here and now we gotta focus on the rehab.”

This is the second ACL tear of Gallinari’s career. He suffered the same fate ahead of the 2013-14 season with the Denver Nuggets, and it was his second knee injury that calendar year. He missed the end of the 2012-13 season with a knee issue, too.

At that point, Gallinari was 25 years old. Now, he’s 34 and entering the 15th year of his NBA career, but he is likely looking ahead to the 16th instead. And unfortunately, recovery won’t be any easier with nine more years under his belt.

However, the veteran is trying to stay positive despite the unfortunate situation. He said that rather than stressing over the big picture, he plans on celebrating the day-to-day improvements of his recovery process.

“It’s way better to play basketball than rehabbing. But it happens. It’s a long process. The good thing is that it’s something that the small improvements that you see every day, those are the things that make you happy and keep going and keep trying to get better every day. That’s the way it is.”

Sam Hauser has already emerged as a solid replacement option for Boston, but as Gallinari continues to rehab, keep an eye on him. There’s nothing he wants more than to be a Celtic.

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