Before the 2019 NBA free agency, no one ever thought that Al Horford would be leaving the Boston Celtics. After the 2018-19 NBA season officially came to an end, the initial belief was that Horford would be opting out of the final year of his contract and sign a longer deal with the Celtics. Unfortunately, during their free agency meeting, Horford’s camp and the Celtics failed to reach an agreement regarding a new contract. As a result, the veteran big man ended up signing a four-year, $109 million deal to join Boston’s Eastern Conference rivals, the Philadelphia 76ers.
In a recent interview with Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, Al Horford discussed several topics, including his departure from the Celtics this summer. Like most people, Horford was disappointed with the outcome of the 2018-19 NBA season for the Celtics since they had one of the most talented rosters in the league. However, Horford said that having too many talented players did more harm than good for the Celtics.
Despite how things ended between him and the Celtics, Al Horford claimed that he doesn’t hold any ill will against his former team, saying that they only did what they thought was best for the franchise.
“In their eyes, I feel that they did the best that they could and what made sense to them,” Horford said. “And obviously, you know, I feel like they’ve always made a point of my age — and I understand that, me being 33 years old. But they did what they felt was best for them and what makes sense for them.”
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) October 8, 2019
Al Horford made his decision after Kyrie Irving chose to leave the Celtics to team up with Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan on the Brooklyn Nets. However, Horford revealed that Irving’s free agency doesn’t have anything to do with his decision. But if he knew that Kemba Walker was headed to Boston, the veteran big man said he might have considered re-signing with the Celtics.
“I don’t want to get caught up in the past, but, yeah, that would have been totally different.”
The departure of Al Horford undeniably broke the hearts of many Celtics’ fans, especially those who supported him since he arrived in Boston in the summer of 2016. Horford has been impressive in his three years with the Celtics. Last season, he averaged 13.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.3 blocks while shooting 53.5 percent from the field and 36.0 percent from beyond the arc.
The Celtics may have signed Enes Kanter to serve as their starting center next season, but it remains a big question mark if he can fill the void left by Al Horford on the defensive end of the floor. As of now, the Celtics are rumored to be active on the trade market, searching for a defensive-minded big man with one of their potential targets being Steven Adams of the Oklahoma City Thunder.