After falling short of their main goal last season, the Boston Celtics are expected to find ways to improve their current roster this fall. They may have performed well even without a starting-caliber center from the regular season up to the second round of the 2020 Playoffs. However, in the Eastern Conference Finals matchup against Bam Adebayo and the Miami Heat, their major frontcourt weakness was completely exposed. The 2020 free agency may not be as loaded as the previous offseason, but there are plenty of quality big men expected to be available on the trading block in the 2020 offseason.
One of the most intriguing trade targets for the Celtics is Al Horford of the Philadelphia 76ers. Unlike other starting-caliber centers on Boston's radar, they wouldn't need to give up that much to acquire the five-time All-Star from the Sixers. According to NBA Analysis Network, the Celtics could get him by simply offering Hayward's expiring contract to Philadelphia. Before pushing through with the deal, they would first need to convince Hayward to opt into the final year of his contract.
If the trade becomes a reality, it will help both teams fill up the needs to improve their rosters.
"The Boston Celtics should pursue an upgrade at center. Whether that means going out and acquiring Al Horford, or Myles Turner, or someone else, Boston should examine any and all options. While Horford is now a bit older than he was during his Celtics' tenure, part of the upside for Boston is they know what they would get in Horford. He knows what it's like to play in that market, and play for that fan base. From a fit standpoint, Horford likely wouldn't need the same amount of time to assimilate as another player might need."
The proposed deal would allow the Celtics to bring back a former fan-favorite in Boston, who perfectly knows how to solve their major frontcourt problem. Before signing a lucrative contract with the Sixers last summer, Horford played for the Celtics for three consecutive years. Despite how things ended up between them in the 2019 free agency, a reunion this offseason would be beneficial for both parties.
While helping the Celtics address the need for a starting-caliber center, returning to Boston would enable Horford to join a team that could maximize his full potential on both ends of the floor. This would allow him to rebuild his value and prove to everyone in the league that he still has plenty of gas left in his tank. Trading Hayward for Horford would undeniably affect the Celtics' salary cap flexibility, but it could boost their chances of fully dominating the Eastern Conference and bringing home the Larry O'Brien Trophy next year.
Meanwhile, for the Sixers, the suggested trade is all about getting rid of Horford and his massive salary. However, though he will only be a one-year rental, Hayward could still help the Sixers become a more competitive team next season, giving them a former All-Star who could help space the floor for Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.