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Report: Al Horford not returning to Boston, will sign elsewhere this summer

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Boston’s disastrous season — and off-season — just keeps getting worse. Anthony Davis is a Laker, Kyrie Irving is out the door and now this.

Al Horford opted out of the $30.1 million the Celtics owed him this summer, but that was expected. A lot of people around the league also assumed he would begin negotiating with Boston to return for a longer contract, worth more money overall but a little less per year, that would give him some security.

He is going to get that security elsewhere, reports Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald.

The buzz from around the league is this is more about Boston not wanting to pay him and do a retooling of their roster around Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown than it is Horford wanting out. Either way, it puts an outstanding player on the market.

Horford is 33 years old and teams may be concerned about the final year of a four-year contract, but he is kind of glue big man who can do everything well that could fit a lot of places and lift teams up to the next level. Horford can play in the post, shot 36 percent from three, sets good screens, is a good defender and role player, and just seems to have no holes in his game. That versatility makes him incredibly valuable.

Horford is going to get paid this summer — not max money, but close enough to it to make him happy — and some team is going to get a lot better when they do it.

 

 

 

 

Report: Al Horford opting out with Celtics

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Celtics president Danny Ainge called restructuring Al Horford‘s contract status – which would involve the center declining his $30,123,015 player option then re-signing for a lower starting salary but more total compensation in a multi-year deal – a priority.

This is either a step toward that or a step toward Boston, with Kyrie Irving seemingly exiting, losing multiple stars this summer.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

If they renounce all their free agents, the Celtics would project to have about $28 million in cap space. That’d be about enough for a max player with fewer than 10 years experience, and Boston would get the room exception (projected to be about $5 million)

Or the Celtics could use Bird Rights to re-sign Horford, Terry Rozier and Marcus Morris. That route would come with a mid-level exception, either the non-taxpayer (projected to be about $9 million) or taxpayer (projected to be about $6 million).

Horford could determine Boston’s path. If the 33-year-old wants to re-sign, that’d probably consume most of the Celtics’ cap space. If he sees Irving leaving and wants to chase a title elsewhere, Boston could reset around Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and three first-round picks in Thursday’s draft.

The Celtics could bring back Rozier, who’ll be a restricted free agent, in either scenario. But if Horford departs, that’d at least open the door to pursue an outside point guard – like D'Angelo Russell or Malcolm Brogdon – to replace Irving.

Danny Ainge calls restructuring Al Horford’s contract status one of Celtics’ priorities

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Kyrie Irving‘s upcoming summer has generated plenty of attention.

But he’s not the only Celtics starter who could hit unrestricted free agency.

Al Horford has a $30,123,015 player option for next season. That’s likely a higher salary than Horford could get in free agency, so he could opt in. The 33-year-old could also opt out to re-sign on a long-term deal that includes a lower salary next season but more total compensation. Or he could even opt out to leave Boston.

Celtics president Danny Ainge sounds interested in the second option.

Asked about the possibility that Al Horford could opt out of the final year of his deal (and $30.1 million) and negotiate a potential extension to stay in Boston, Ainge said, “That will be discussed. That’s one of the priorities on our list as well.”

If Irving, Horford and Aron Baynes opt out and Boston renounces all its free agents, the Celtics would project to have about $32 million in cap space. But in this hypothetical, a bulk of that earmarked would be earmarked for Horford. Will there be enough space left to exceed the $9 million-ish Boston could spend through the mid-level exception available to over-the-cap teams?

In other words, this might be a year to pay Horford his high salary. If he’ll come cheaper in future seasons, the savings could be more valuable then.

But if Horford opts in rather than opting out to re-sign a long-term deal, the Celtics risk losing him entirely in 2020 free agency. Even if the intention now is for him to re-sign, so much can change in a year.

Of course, Horford holds the cards. It’s his option.

Boston can entice him, though. The Celtics must evaluate their direction. Will Irving defy convention and re-sign? Will Boston trade for Anthony Davis and prioritize the present? Will the Celtics build more patiently around Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and multiple extra first-round draft picks this year and future years? All that will inform how Boston proceeds with Horford.

Likewise, Horford must decide whether he wants to stay. The veteran could see a team losing its best player and want to move on himself.

But there’s definitely potential for the Celtics and Horford to commit long-term to each other very soon.

Rumor: Pelicans’ top target in Anthony Davis trade is Jayson Tatum

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The big name in Anthony Davis trade talks last February (besides Davis himself) was someone who realistically wouldn’t get dealt.

Jayson Tatum loomed over the process. The Celtics can’t trade for Davis until July, because Kyrie Irving is already their one allowable traded-for designated-rookie-scale player. So, Boston had to convince the Pelicans to keep Davis past the deadline. Their reward this offseason could be Tatum.

But so much has changed since.

Tatum continued an underwhelming second season. New Orleans fired Dell Demps and hired David Griffin to run the front office. Kyrie Irving appears likely to leave the Celtics, which would make it more difficult for them to re-sign Davis in 2020.

Does Boston still want Davis as badly? Do the Pelicans still value Tatum so highly?

Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:

From what I’ve been able to learn, if Kyrie Irving walks, it is not going to diminish their appetite to go get Anthony Davis.

From what I understand, they’re not going to take their foot off the gas when it comes to pursuing Anthony Davis.

I know that there’s a stronger sense than ever within the organization that Kyrie Irving is going to leave.

Fletcher Mackel of WDSU

Tatum is still a valuable player. He’s young, talented and relatively cheap. But his stock has probably dropped enough since the trade deadline that it opens doors for other teams to beat Boston’s offer for Davis. Even if Tatum remains the Pelicans’ most-desired player, other teams could offer better packages of multiple players and picks.

Especially because the Celtics should show some restraint considering Irving’s likely impending exit.

Davis reportedly wouldn’t rule out staying in Boston without Irving. But that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement. Davis’ father enters the situation with a unfavorable view of the Celtics.

Without Irving, Tatum and whatever else they must send New Orleans, how good would the Davis-led Celtics be? There’d be a lot riding on Gordon Hayward rediscovering his star production after injury, Al Horford staving off aging (if he doesn’t opt out and leave) and Jaylen Brown getting back into a groove after an uneven year. It’d be a huge risk.

Of course, having a Davis trade in place could convince Irving to re-sign. That might be a longshot, but the possibility of a star twofer should factor.

Boston reportedly could have traded for Kawhi Leonard, who now has the Raptors on the brink of a championship. Sometimes, the big swing pays off, and seeing it happen for Toronto could prompt the Celtics to take their own this summer.

Report: Celtics could have traded Jaylen Brown to Spurs as centerpiece for Kawhi Leonard

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The Celtics reportedly offered the Spurs a strong collection of draft picks for Kawhi Leonard.

But San Antonio, prioritizing winning now, wanted capable veterans. So, the Spurs sent Leonard to the Raptors for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a late first-round pick – a deal that worked for both sides. San Antonio continued its playoff streak. Leonard led Toronto to the NBA Finals.

Boston, on the other hand, was left in the cold. The Celtics endured a rocky season that ended in the second round. Kyrie Irving appears likely to leave.

Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:

I do know that there’s some regret from some people within the Celtics organization about not pulling the trigger on a Kawhi Leonard deal last summer.

They could have made a deal for Kawhi Leonard – my understanding, from kind of both sides of this – involving Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart. At least Jaylen Brown as the centerpiece of it all.

Smart was a free agent, so he would have had to agree to a sign-and-trade. That gets complicated. But Boston also signed him just after San Antonio the Leonard trade. So, maybe that was actually in play.

With Leonard thriving throughout the playoffs and Brown having an underwhelming year, Boston clearly missed a great opportunity. But hindsight is 20-20.

Leonard was coming off a lost year due to injury, and his health was a major question. He’ll also become an unrestricted free agent this summer, and the flight risk was real (and still is for Toronto). The possibility of losing both Leonard and Irving in one summer would have have been daunting.

Brown had just helped lead the Celtics to Game 7 of the conference finals. He appeared to be part of a promising young core with Jayson Tatum.

So, it’s easy to say now that Boston erred. Making the call this summer would have been more difficult.