NEW YORK -- The collective breath was knocked out of Madison Square Garden Sunday afternoon when Danilo Gallinari crumpled to the floor holding his left knee. No, it wasn't Amar'e Stoudemire, but a serious injury to the guy they call Gallo would've dealt a major blow to the Knicks' playoff hopes -- not to mention any chance they might have of trading for Carmelo Anthony.
Gallinari quelled the concern on both fronts after the Knicks' 98-92 victory over the Pacers, saying team physicians told him the initial diagnosis was a Grade 1 sprain -- the least severe.
"Nothing to worry about," said Gallinari, who added, "I think I will play" Tuesday night against the Spurs.
Gallinari went down with 6:14 left in the fourth quarter after the Pacers' Brandon Rush fell into the outside of his left knee on a drive to the basket. Coincidentally, Rush blew out his knee in a workout allegedly conducted illegally by Knicks scouting director Rodney Heard in 2007, as detailed in an investigative story by Yahoo! Sports. Gallinari was helped off the floor and was barely putting any weight on his left leg, but later said the pain subsided once he started walking to the locker room.
"I felt a stretch and I felt like a little click on the [inside] of my knee, and I felt a lot of pain right after the guy fell on my knee," said Gallinari, who went out with 19 points. "But when I started to walk, the pain started to go down. It went down to discomfort."
Coach Mike D'Antoni said, "Those strands in the ACL, they're made of spaghetti for Italians, so he'll be fine."
An MRI scheduled for Monday will determine the extent of the damage. The results will be monitored from coast to coast; not only do the Knicks need Gallinari's 3-point shooting to secure a playoff spot, but they'd presumably need to include him in any realistic trade proposal for Anthony.
The Nuggets are continuing to discuss scenarios with the Nets and other teams, and sources say they are not high on Gallinari -- or much of anything else the Knicks could offer, for that matter. But the Knicks have known from the beginning that they'd have trouble competing with the assets the Nets would be willing to offer with a guarantee that Anthony would sign an extension with them as part of the trade. If Anthony declines, Denver is back at square one and would have to entertain lesser offers from other teams or risk losing Anthony to the Knicks as a free agent after the lockout that is widely expected to occur after the season.