After months of waiting, the 2023-24 NBA season finally kicks off on Tuesday. The Boston Celtics are, once again, poised to be one of the Association's top teams after making it all the way to last year's Eastern Conference Finals — their sixth time doing so since the 2016-17 campaign.
This year's Celtics also have a new look and energy to them. Names like Marcus Smart, Robert Williams, and Grant Williams are gone in favor of Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis. But while the duo of Holiday and Porzingis are playing their first of, hopefully, many seasons in a Celtics jersey, others are likely in their final campaign with the organization.
Here are three Celtics who are likely playing their last season in Boston this year.
1. Al Horford
The upcoming campaign marks Al Horford's 17th NBA season. It's also his sixth season as a Celtic, marking the second-longest tenure out of the four teams he's suited up with.
Still, Horford's time with the Celtics could be coming to an end soon. The 37-year-old center isn't as effective as he once was. While his 44.6% three-point percentage was impressive last year, his 15.6 points and 9.9 rebounds per 100 possessions were the worst rates of his career by a good margin.
Horford is only getting slower with each passing year, making it difficult for him to keep pace with today's NBA. His struggles were further magnified during the 2022-23 playoffs when he averaged 6.7 points on .386/.298/.750 splits while playing an average of 30.9 minutes across 20 postseason matchups.
While Horford is currently signed through the 2024-25 season, I wouldn't count on him sticking around. For starters, retirement is a real possibility at this stage of his career. If the Celtics go on to win the NBA Finals, he might decide to hang up his sneakers right there.
Furthermore, the Celtics could decide to move Horford before the 2024-25 campaign even begins. A $9.5 million cap hit is a lot for an aging big man who might be even worse next season if his decline continues. That freed-up cap space could be used to bring in younger and more talented contributors.
Barring a late-career renaissance, don't count on seeing Horford in green beyond the current season.