Coming into the offseason, few expected that the Al Horford would be leaving the Boston Celtics. With a player option for $30 million left on his deal, it was expected that the 33-year-old veteran would opt in or return to the team on a longer-term deal worth less annual but more long-term money.
However, Horford declined the option. And right now, it seems that he will be able to land a much more lucrative contract from some other teams on the open market.
In a recent piece, Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe spoke about Horford's contract and identified the team that could be the "mystery team" in the Horford sweepstakes.
The Horford news took the Celtics by surprise. They fully expected him to return on a three-year, $60 million extension, which would have benefited both sides in offering Horford security and the team salary-cap relief. But there is a mystery team that is believed to have offered Horford a four-year, $100 million-plus deal. That team is believed to be the Clippers, contingent on Doc Rivers’s team signing a maximum-salary free agent to pair with him.
The Celtics are planning to move on, and they likely won’t talk with Horford before free agency begins. That’s why talks cut off so soon. Boston had no plans to offer a fourth year and Horford’s representatives believe they already have a deal in place.
The Clippers would be a sensible location for Horford, and the team has been connected to him since his opt out. And if they're willing to pay him that much in hopes of pairing him with a Kawhi Leonard or Kevin Durant type, that could incentivize Horford to sign on as a second star, especially if he's staring down that kind of money.
There are a handful of other options for Horford as well. And recently, the New Orleans Pelicans have been connected to him and Horford generated some buzz by following a couple of players on Instagram. Despite being on the older side, it appears that potential contenders are valuing his combination of offense and defensive ability as well as his leadership skills. So, either way, he should draw a big contract.
As Washburn mentioned, a return to Boston doesn't seem likely at the moment as the C's have only offered him a three-year deal. Perhaps after the team secures their commitment from Kemba Walker, they will consider changing their offer to Horford. But still, the two sides appear to be far apart on a deal, so Horford may depart to get the nine-figure contract that might be out there for him.
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