Al Horford Is Gone, His Time In Boston Shouldn’t Be Taken For Granted
The NBA Free Agent Frenzy is underway. I’m not sure if anybody is aware but Kemba Walker is on the Celtics after signing a max contract with the C’s. Obviously, the Kyrie experience was a dumpster fire making the Kemba signing much needed. The shine of the new point guard for Boston however may have cast a shadow over the other big news of the day. Al Horford left the Celtics for the Philadelphia 76er’s signing a 4-year deal worth $109 million ($97 million guaranteed). Horford’s time with the Celtics may blend in with the rich history of the 17-time champs, but his time in Boston was exactly what the C’s needed.
Almost three years to the day (July 2nd, 2016) Boston signed Al Horford to a max contract worth $113 million. Before that season, the rebuild was still taking place with the likes of David Lee, Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger on the parquet for the green team. This city for whatever reason could not attract a big name free agent. Even bringing Tom Brady to the Hamptons couldn’t attract Kevin Durant to play in Boston. Horford broke the trend, the Celtics got their max free agent. More importantly however, they got a guy that was team first. While players came and went in Boston, Horford could be relied on by coaches and players.
Al’s time in Boston won’t show up in scoring records, but he knew his place on the floor. It didn’t matter if he got triple-doubles, all that mattered was the win for the team. As his time as a Celtic reached the postseason, Horford became the kryptonite for Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo including this year’s Eastern Conference Semifinal where Al stuffed Giannis at the basket numerous times. (Only highlight of the series)
With that, we are in the free agent frenzy. Al signs on with Philly making some people mad, but people shouldn’t be mad. This situation benefits Horford and the contract he signed in 2016 saying he could opt out, so he did. The Celtics aren’t rebuilding, but retooling. Asking Horford to stay and work through said retooling wouldn’t be fair. 12 seasons, 3 Eastern Conference Finals appearances, 0 NBA Finals games played is tough for a player. For Boston to re-sign number 42 would’ve required more “numbers gymnastics” than Cirque Du Soleil and potentially a pay cut. When it comes to situations like this in any sport, players have to do what is best for them. At 33, Horford probably signed his last $100 million deal. Teaching players with talent like Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons plus new acquisition Josh Richardson is what he does best, and may put Philly at the top of the east and Horford potentially to his first NBA title.
For the Celtics, this now opens up opportunities for players that have been looking for minutes. Guerschon Yabusele, Robert Williams, Daniel Theis, and now Enes Kanter will see time at the 5, and we’ve seen in the past with some of the rosters with unknown names sometimes you just need the right coach. The Celtics without Horford maybe resemble what Golden State was in past years as a fast tempo team that will try to outscore you by 20 every night. This should be a fun team with now two max guys, but don’t forget the max contract draught for the Celtics was broken by Big Al.
-John Luck (@jluck_89)