Al Horford is set to hit open free agency this offseason, and the NBA rumor mill is churning. There will be quite a few teams interested in signing Horford, but there is one team that is making for an intriguing fit in recent rumors and speculation around the league.
Tom Downey of Chat Sports opined that the Miami Heat could be in the mix to sign Horford this offseason.
Adding a piece like Horford to the Miami lineup would give them a serious contender in the Eastern Conference. Hassan Whiteside is also set to hit the free agency market, which could be another reason that Miami would look to sign Horford. Pairing them in the front-court would be dangerous, but Horford could come in and be a solid replacement for Whiteside.
Last season with the Atlanta Hawks, Horford ended up averaging 15.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game. He shot 50.5 percent from the field overall, and knocked down 34.4 percent of his three-point shots.
At 29-years-old, Horford is in the prime of his career and would be a viable target for the Heat to sign to a three or four-year deal.
Dwyane Wade found the fountain of youth last season, which leads to hope for the Heat in the coming years. He had been dealing with injuries throughout the last few years, but those seemed to be in the past for him. Chris Bosh is hoping to return next season after a blood clot issue this year, although that is far from a sure thing.
Miami fell to the Toronto Raptors in Game 7 of their second round NBA Playoffs series. It was a disappointing way to end the season, but Horford would have made a huge difference for them.
Putting him into a lineup that features Wade, Goran Dragic, Whiteside, and another piece would be extremely dangerous. Joe Johnson could be a target to re-sign in free agency, as well.
It will be interesting to see which teams line up trying to sign Horford and who comes away as the winner of the sweepstakes. Many teams are expected to line up in an attempt to acquire his services.
Looking ahead at potential suitors outside of the Heat, there are a few teams that stand out. The Los Angeles Lakers, Atlanta Hawks, Indiana Pacers, and Boston Celtics could all have varying levels of interest in signing him. Horford has mentioned that he would be open to re-signing with the Hawks, which puts them as the early front-runner to bring him back.
That being said, playing in Miami is a major draw for most players. Pat Riley also has had ways of convincing players to join the Heat over the last few years.
There is no question that the Heat will have the money to make a move for Horford if Whiteside leaves in free agency. If he doesn’t end up leaving and the Heat re-sign Whiteside, they will have to get creative to bring Horford in. Wade will need a new deal this offseason, and that would force Riley to consider his options.
Expect to hear plenty of rumors surrounding the Heat this coming offseason. Horford is going to be a talked-about name throughout the offseason, as well, and the two parties will likely have their names linked. Miami would be very smart to try signing Horford, as he could take them to the next level.
Do you think that the Miami Heat should look to sign Al Horford when NBA free agency begins this coming offseason? Would he be the missing piece that gets them back to the NBA Finals? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!
[Photo by AP Photo/Brett Davis]