Veteran big man Al Horford is the mystery of free agency, which means a return to the Boston Celtics can’t be ruled out.
Versatile big man Al Horford wasn’t the biggest superstar to wear a Boston Celtics jersey, but he was an important piece in shaping the team into an Eastern Conference contender. That’s why his departure in free agency can sting a bit.
While Horford opting out of a $30.1 million player option for the 2019-20 season wasn’t a shock for the Celtics or fans, the fact that the two sides couldn’t strike a team-friendly deal soon after was the shocking spin that now has Horford on the market.
Even more surprising is the demand for the 33-year-old big man who proved to be the perfect big man for Brad Stevens.
While many assume Horford would want to play for an NBA title contender at his age, the interest is coming from young teams like the Dallas Mavericks, Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans who, like the Celtics before Horford signed, are young teams on the rise looking for veteran leadership.
In joining any of those teams in free agency for more money, Al Horford would basically be kicking the Boston Celtics in the gut. With Kemba Walker on the verge of replacing Kyrie Irving at the point guard and Kawhi Leonard rumored to be moving on to Hollywood, the East is wide open for the Celtics.
So, unless the Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Clippers or some other title contender shows Horford the big money, staying in Boston for less money should be in his best interest. That’s why Horford is such an enigma heading into free agency.
The interest around the league is there. So much so that the Celtics can’t be ruled out as a return destination.
How can the Celtics get it done?
If there is a way, Ainge will find a way to make it better. There is the scenario where Al Horford looks at the Kemba Walker signing and comes back to the table to work out a team-friendly deal to give a title shot one more shot in Boston.
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Again, that will require some type of trade to make the money work which makes Horford’s landing spot so intriguing come free agency. The possibility that his days in green not being over is alive until he signs elsewhere on the dotted line.