NBA Rumors: Al Horford Expected to Leave Celtics, Along With Kyrie Irving

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The Boston Celtics, one of the NBA’s top players for the last several seasons, are looking at an offseason of major flux. One of their top veterans, Kyrie Irving, is expected to leave the team in free agency, and now a new report says that another notable Celtic, Al Horford, is likely headed out the door as well.

Per a Twitter post and subsequent article by Boston Herald Celtics reporter Steve Bulpett, there has been a “major change” in Horford’s situation. The veteran big man is “no longer discussing a new 3-year deal to stay with the Celtics,” and is expected to sign a four-year deal elsewhere. The report was attributed to a “source close to Horford.”

The 33-year-old Horford has a chance to opt out of his the final year of his contract, at a salary of $30.1 million, and had been expected to either not exercise it, or opt out and agree to a new contract with Boston. But now, it appears the Celtics will be minus two veterans next season.

Horford’s expected departure, while it will cause the Celtics to lose a great deal of star power, will also open up a large amount of cap space for a team that hadn’t expected to have much this offseason.

The player’s move, per The Herald, “appears to simply be a move for a better chance at a championship with a club willing to pay him more on a longer-term contract.”

The departures of Horford and Irving would leave Boston with a nucleus led by Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, and Marcus Smart. The Celtics reportedly pursued a trade of Anthony Davis, before the New Orleans Pelicans agreed to send the star big man to the Los Angeles Lakers last weekend.

Horford, who began his NBA career with the Atlanta Hawks, is a five-time All-Star. He signed a four-year, $113 million contract to move to the Celtics in 2016, helping lead the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2018.

Per NBC Sports, likely landing spots for Horford include the Los Angeles Lakers and Indiana Pacers. The Lakers, per a report on Twitter by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, are looking to clear cap space prior to the official start of free agency, possibly by shedding such players as Mo Wagner, Jemerrio Jones, and Isaac Bonga. The Lakers are hoping to clear another contract slot to sign an additional max or near-max player, which could make room for Horford in Los Angeles.