Report: Celtics believe they have ‘real chance’ to sign Al Horford in free agency

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The Celtics reportedly pushed hard for Jimmy Butler before the trade deadline. They also reportedly tried to deal for Jahlil Okafor.

Why not Al Horford?

Boston reportedly showed interest in Horford, but obviously a deal never happened. The Celtics have the vast amount of assets necessary to make the “godfather” offer Atlanta sought and still have plenty left over. There would have been value in consolidating those draft picks and young players into a single star.

Did Boston fear Horford, who will become an unrestricted free agent this summer, would leave?

Apparently, the opposite.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Part of the reason, sources tell me, that Boston didn’t make an immense offer to Atlanta for Al Horford was – because Horford is a free agent this summer – Boston feels like it’s got a real chance to get Horford in free agency.

The Celtics will face plenty of competition, including the Magic. Any team chasing Horford this summer ought to prepare a max contract. Though Horford will turn 30 before he hits free agency, he’s still a star player who helps his team offensively and defensively, inside and out. The market should reward him with max offers.

The biggest hitch in Boston’s plan is Atlanta’s recent success. The Hawks have gone 5-1 in their last games, the lone loss coming to the Warriors in overtime. Atlanta can already offer a fifth year and bigger raises, and perception of a stronger team would only help.

The Celtics should hope the Hawks lose early in the playoffs. With Boston third and Atlanta just a half game ahead of sixth in the Eastern Conference, the Celtics might even get an opportunity to put their Horford pursuit into their own hands next month.