With the Boston Celtics missing out on Anthony Davis after the New Orleans Pelicans agreed to ship their star big man to the Los Angeles Lakers, it looks like the team may have to take solace in the strong possibility that their tried-and-tested man in the middle, Al Horford, will be staying in Boston for the next few years.
In a report published Sunday, Boston Herald writer Steve Bulpett noted that Horford only has until Tuesday to opt into the final year of his four-year contract, which will pay him over $30 million in the 2019-20 NBA season. According to Bulpett, Horford and the Celtics have been working out a potential deal that would allow the 33-year-old big man to decline his player option and re-sign for a “lower number” in 2019-20, with another two years added on to his new contract. It wasn’t specified, however, how much money Horford may be willing to accept per season if he decides to opt out and re-sign with the Celtics as rumored.
While it’s reportedly possible that Horford will accept less money to remain with the Celtics for another three years, Bulpett added that it’s unclear whether the Dominican forward/center’s “outlook” was affected by the events of the past few weeks. The Celtics were one of several teams believed to be in the running to acquire Davis from the Pelicans, but missed out on the former No. 1 overall draft pick when the Lakers agreed to send Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, and three first-round selections to New Orleans in order to land the former All-NBA standout.
Although Al Horford is a five-time NBA All-Star and a former third-team All-NBA selection, the veteran big man appeared to be on the decline in the 2018-19 season, where he averaged only 13.6 points and 6.7 rebounds and saw action in a career-low 29 minutes per game. With that in mind, Bleacher Report speculated that Horford likely wouldn’t get a similar deal to the four-year, $113 million contract he signed with Boston in the summer of 2016, assuming he declines his player option and tests the unrestricted free agent market.
As further opined, re-signing Horford could be critical for the Celtics as they hope to improve their roster and return to the playoffs in the 2019-20 NBA season. With point guard Kyrie Irving expected to sign elsewhere this summer, youngsters Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown may need to be surrounded by another star player, with Horford complementing them by contributing on both ends and offering valuable experience on a comparatively young team.