On Saturday evening, a deep Celtics contingent that even included Patriots quarterback Tom Brady wrapped up a recruiting meeting in New York with the prize of this free agent class, Kevin Durant. The Celtics were pleased with the gathering, and as they boarded a private jet to fly back to Boston they were also thinking about forward Al Horford, their other prime target. But as the jet prepared to take off, a phone rang and delivered the news the Celtics, their fans, and their city have been waiting for: Al Horford had accepted Boston’s four-year, $113 million maximum-salary contract offer. The pilot was asked to pull to the side of the runway, a source said, and when the call ended, there was a celebration.
Horford’s father, Tito, said in a telephone interview Saturday night that his son had narrowed his choices down to the Hawks and the Celtics. As the family discussed the options, the conversation often returned to the uncommon passion of Boston’s fans. In Atlanta, support at home games was sometimes tepid, despite the fact that the Hawks had gone 108-56 over the last two years. “There wasn’t as much motivation for him when he saw all the empty seats when they were winning,” Tito Horford said. “He said to me, ‘Dad, when we were playing Boston, they were down 15 points and they were cheering their team like they were winning the game. They’re so into the game.’ This is special for us, especially for him.”
Tito Horford said Durant would certainly be a “big fish.” But he said his son did not mention the possibility of Durant joining him in Boston and stressed that it was not the reason he chose the Celtics. “He just said ‘Right now, I’m excited,’ ” Tito Horford said. “He said, ‘I’m going to play for the Celtics, Dad. I don’t know who else they might get, but I’m here, and I’m hoping for the best.’ ”
Ramona Shelburne: Al Horford's four-year, $113 million deal with the Celtics includes a player option after the third year, according to his agent Jason Glushon.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Boston and Washington have rapidly lost hope of Al Horford leaving the Hawks, league sources tell @The Vertical.
Zach Klein: Per NBA league source, Hawks have upped their offer to Al Horford & added a 5th yr. Not 5-yr Max though
Marc Stein: Detroit was the mystery team that made Al Horford's short list of visits, sources say, but he looks lasered in now on Celtics/Wizards/Hawks
Zach Lowe: Can confirm this re DET, not that Steiny needs any confirmation. twitter.com/ESPNSteinLine/…
The Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards have emerged as the frontrunners to sign free-agent big man Al Horford, and a final decision is expected Saturday night, league sources told The Vertical.
Horford, 30, pared down the teams on Saturday morning, league sources said. Horford met with four teams Friday in Atlanta, including the Celtics and Wizards, sources said.
Zach Klein: Multiple sources tell me Al Horford is not a fan of the Dwight Howard signing. Could play major role in decision to stay with Hawks
According to sources, the Celtics’ delegation included team executives as well as Celtics All-Star Isaiah Thomas and forward Jae Crowder. On Friday, former Celtics guard Evan Turner told the Globe that in recent conversations, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge “seemed confident” about signing Horford.
Adam Himmelsbach: Source familiar w/Celtics meeting w/ Horford says it went well & that belief is Boston has "good chance" of signing: bostonglobe.com/sports/celtics…
Silent for most of the opening of free agency, the Wizards took a trip to Atlanta to make a recruiting pitch to free agent forward/center Al Horford, league sources told CSNmidatlantic.com on Friday night.
Jay King: On NBA TV, David Aldridge said the Celtics made a "strong presentation" for Al Horford. Whatever that means.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources: Hawks aren't ruling out possibility that they could bring back Al Horford. If he decides to stay, ATL has ways to unload salary. Nevertheless, Horford's contract talks have been ongoing with Hawks, sources say. He's been pursuing max deal. Now comes hard choice for him.
Brian Windhorst: Hawks have been involved in trade talks today in an effort to open additional cap space to re-sign Al Horford if needed, sources say.
Calvin Watkins: Hawks big man Al Horford met with Houston on Friday according to a source. There is an expectation Horford makes a decision this weekend a source said.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources: Free agent Al Horford held four meetings today -- including Houston, Washington -- and plans to make a decision over weekend.
Alex Kennedy: It seems Celtics want to sign Al Horford, then bring him to their meeting with Kevin Durant tomorrow. May intrigue KD (especially in East). This reminds me of Phoenix surprising LaMarcus Aldridge with Tyson Chandler at last year's meeting. We'll see.
Adam Himmelsbach: Evan Turner said Danny Ainge “seemed confident” about Celtics chances of signing Al Horford: bostonglobe.com/sports/celtics…
Alex Kennedy: The Boston Celtics are traveling to Atlanta to meet with Al Horford tonight, per sources. Isaiah Thomas and others will be there to pitch.
Ramona Shelburne: Fifth year obviously key for Hawks chances to retain Horford. Among teams who reached out to him on Night 1 is the Thunder, as Brian Windhorst reported they intended to as part of Durant pitch.
Darren Wolfson: FWIW, the #Twolves have not reached out on Al Horford. Thought maybe they would in the first hour and at least plant a seed. But no.
The Vertical: Adrian Wojnarowski: Al Horford views himself as max player. Will meet with Celtics, Rockets and other teams.
Marc Stein: OKC, meanwhile, continues to probe the league for potential trade partners to take on Enes Kanter to free up money for a run at Al Horford. Don't forget on Kanter: Has veto power over any trade until July 12 after OKC matched his Portland offer sheet AND a 15-percent trade kicker
The Celtics spent much of Thursday mapping out a midnight strategy. They are planning to be on the phone at the stroke of July 1 as the NBA’s free agent negotiating period begins just after midnight. According to sources, they have made arrangements to speak with representatives of Kevin Durant and Al Horford, if not the players themselves -- the preparations in this case being the acquisition of the proper telephone numbers, not any illegal early talks.
The C’s will add a big man, most likely through free agency, but also possibly in trade. Beyond offering Horford a large deal (one league executive is certain they are willing to give the 30-year center a maximum contract), the club will also explore what would be considered lesser options.
Also adding fuel to the pursuit of Horford is the belief that Durant likes his game. Even if the latter chooses to remain with Oklahoma City on a one-year deal with an option, thus freeing him up for an even bigger free agent payday next summer, the presence of the big Hawk could make Boston more attractive. The Celts’ pitch to KD could, therefore, be more of a foundational exercise in hopes of making the score next year.
And it won’t just be members of the Celts’ basketball administration on the line speaking in harmony. A source close to the situation said that All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas will also be in the room to sing backup and take a solo turn as he and the team try to entice the prospects.
Scott Souza: #Celtics All-Star Isaiah Thomas said he's spoken to free agent Al Horford & Horford's been very positive about C's, city of Boston.
Mark Murphy: IT on Horford's view of C's: "Very serious. I texted him other day. He’s open to opportunity, he’s a fan of my game, he likes how we play."
Michael Scotto: Source: Al Horford will meet with the Houston Rockets tomorrow.
NBA sources confirmed for FOX 26 Sports that the Houston Rockets will meet with free agent center Al Horford on Friday. Horford will officially become a free agent Thursday night at 11 p.m. Central Time.
As they prepare to make their pitch to Kevin Durant, the Oklahoma City Thunder have been making calls around the league looking to clear a massive amount of salary-cap space in a move rival executives believe is an effort to go after free agent Al Horford in addition to Durant, multiple sources told ESPN.com. Horford played for Thunder coach Billy Donovan at the University of Florida, where they teamed up to win two national titles, and they remain close. The Thunder have an opening at power forward after trading Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic last week.
Watch out for the Pistons on Horford; with Wednesday's trade of Meeks, they are one tiny move away from being able to fit his max. They are working to schedule a meeting with Horford over the first 48 hours of free agency, sources say. Horford's fit alongside Andre Drummond is another question entirely.
Chris Broussard: I'm told that besides KD, Lakers' wish list includes Whiteside, Al Horford, Nic Batum, Harrison Barnes & Ryan Anderson
In addition to Durant, some players the Lakers have interest in are Harrison Barnes, Hassan Whiteside and Al Horford, sources say.
The Hawks, of course, face a stiff challenge in trying to retain Horford, who sources say is expected to draw free-agent interest from a number of teams, including the Lakers, Rockets, Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons, Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets.
Q: Are the nets interested in signing vets? - Steve Kyler: Names I have heard connected to the Nets were Jeremy Lin, Jamal Crawford and Al Horford.
Calvin Watkins: According to a source the Houston Rockets are looking at the following high-level free agents: Al Horford, Kevin Durant, Hassan Whiteside and Ryan Anderson. The team's search to upgrading the roster will be wide and not just strictly with these four players.
Horford’s first-year max is larger than Whiteside’s ($26 million to $22 million), and Horford will be hoping for a max deal, though the Heat believes he will be interested if Miami pursues him. The Heat also probably could sign Noah and Luol Deng for a bit more than what Whiteside would cost alone, but that wouldn’t make Miami better.
Q: What are the chances that Al Horford leaves Atlanta? - Steve Kyler: Unclear... he's gonna take meetings so that is not a good sign, but Atlanta can offer most money.
Darren Wolfson: Heard today Wizards/Celtics/Heat also expected to be in mix for Horford. #Twolves likely call. But won't get him. twitter.com/ESPNSteinLine/…
According to sources familiar with free agent talks, the Warriors are looking at Al Horford, Joakim Noah and even Hassan Whiteside. The contract demands might be too hefty but the goal is clear. The Warriors can't thrive with a center that doesn't attack the rim or score inside.
The Magic’s strategy, a source told Sporting News recently, will involve luring former Florida Gators back to Central Florida. That means former Gator champs Joakim Noah and Al Horford, but also includes Mavericks small forward Chandler Parsons, who will be a free agent this summer, too.
Marc Stein: Free Agency Rumble: Orlando, Detroit and the Lakers are all among the teams that intend to make a run at Atlanta big man Al Horford.
So why don’t mega stars ever choose the Wizards? Dudley said it’s about NBA rules more than it’s about Washington, with the league rewarding stars who remain with their current teams. “It’s the system the NBA built,” he said. “In general, no star player’s leaving to go to another team. … The system’s built for these guys to stay. Guys like Kevin Durant, Al Horford: the Wizards most likely will be going after these players, as they should. Are they really going to leave that money on the table?”
The Hawks’ number one priority is to bring back Horford, Kent Bazemore and possibly Kris Humphries as unrestricted free agents. They will also need to figure out their point guard situation - which means an almost assured trade of either Jeff Teague or Dennis Schroder. Those are the likely scenarios. However, there is a chance the Hawks could shoot for the stars and line up Horford with another max player such as Kevin Durant or DeMar DeRozan – likely the three players on the market who will get max deals.
The Magic have a wish list and I can tell you Dwight Howard is not on it. Horford is a guy they like, but I don’t think that means anything. They’ll get in line with a dozen other teams that just how this summer will play.
A person familiar with the organization told Sporting News that landing Hawks star Al Horford is the Rockets' top-line goal in free agency, and Ryan Anderson also would be a possibility. Also, expect Morey to be creative when pursuing sign-and-trade deals involving star players like Blake Griffin, Jimmy Butler or Carmelo Anthony, should they become available.
Mike Conley has come up and would be a considerable upgrade over the declining Tony Parker, but to ink him would require clearing out some salary cap space, and then convincing Conley to leave Memphis (not that easy, he likes it there). Expect Al Horford and every major free agent not named Dwight Howard to be linked to the Spurs. Nicolas Batum would be a great fit, but the buzz is he likely stays put in Charlotte.
Teammate Paul Millsap went through his first venture into unrestricted free agency last summer. He ultimately chose the Hawks over the Magic and signed two-year deal with an additional year as a player option. Millsap said he would offer advice but only if Horford seeks it. “If he wants my two cents, he’ll ask for it,” Millsap said. “I don’t like to butt into other people’s business but I think he knows from talking to me last year what the process is going to be like. I think Al knows that every player on this team appreciates everything that he did. Love him like a brother. We know how important he is to us but it’s up to him to make his decision.”
With the Hawks, Horford, who turns 30 next month, could receive a deal worth about $150 million from the Hawks and a deal worth about $111 million with another team. “We have said it and it’s the same, he is somebody that we value and somebody that we find very, very important to us,” Hawks coach and president of basketball operations Mike Budenholzer said. “From the way he plays to his character on and off the court, he is the kind of person we want to continue to build with.”
Horford did answer a question about his time in Atlanta. He has been with the organization for nine seasons after being the No. 3 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft out of the University of Florida. “It means a lot,” Horford said of Atlanta. “I’ve set up here with my family. We all live here. We live here in the summer. We live here year-round. I’m very grateful for all the people here. They have taken me in from the very first day, even though I was a Gator. They loved me. I really love the city.”
Although he may have played his last game in a Hawks uniform, on Sunday night Horford just wanted to think about one more team meeting. The Hawks will have exit interviews and locker clean out on Monday. “I’m not thinking about that,” Horford said. “We just had a tough loss. My main priority tomorrow is to meet with the team and the coaches one last time (for the season) and go from there and figure out how we can be a better group.”
“It means a lot,” Horford said of Atlanta. “I’ve set up here with my family. We all live here. We live here in the summer. We live here year-round. I’m very grateful for all the people here. They have taken me in from the very first day, even though I was a Gator. They loved me. I really love the city.”
Miami’s Hassan Whiteside, Chicago’s Pau Gasol and Atlanta’s Al Horford are the other centers the Mavericks will probably pursue if they can’t land Howard, who is good friends with Mavs forward Chandler Parsons.
Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford is set to become a free agent this offseason, but Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal Constitution told the Celtics Talk podcast he believes there’s a strong chance Horford stays with the Hawks. “I can’t get inside his mind to know if Miami is an attractive place for him, or are there other places that are attractive to him,” Vivlamore said. “The Hawks are prepared to offer him the max, he’s comfortable in this system. I would think it’s 90-percent that he’s staying, but that means there’s 10-percent that he wouldn’t.”
With Horford about to hit free agency at (almost) 30 and Schroder readying to succeed Teague, you can understand why the Hawks nearly hit the reset button. Some rival executives view everything through the lens of Horford's next contract: Re-sign him as he ages, and you're tethering yourselves to long-term mediocrity. But that Horford-Millsap front-line is dynamite; the Hawks may not have a top-10 player, but they have two top-20 guys at valuable positions.
Sean Marchand: Does Portland go after Ryan Anderson or Al Horford in free agency, in your opinion? - Jason Quick: Neil Olshey is a big fan of Al Horford...
“But then in summer free agency, part of the reason sources tell me that Boston didn’t make an immense offer to Atlanta for Al Horford was because Horford is a free agent this summer. Boston feels like it’s got a real chance to get Horford in free agency. I think Danny Ainge’s patience is going to pay off. They’re going to get a chance to better this team, and I think the opportunity is coming either around the draft or after in free agency.” You can hear Woj’s full answer and some other juicy NBA rumors in the video below.
August 10, 2022 | 4:20 am EDT Update
Furthermore, the first-year head coach said one wrinkle he will implement and stick with is having the offense run through Anthony Davis, and James concurred, sources said. The team has been encouraged with Davis’ offseason progression and believe he’ll be in optimum shape to avoid serious injuries and carry a heavier load.
James is finalizing a destination to host the team’s annual minicamp prior to training camp, with San Diego being the likely landing space over Las Vegas, sources said. He’s hoping to build a better rapport with teammates before entering the 2022-23 season. The meeting was deemed productive and informative. Pelinka made his feelings clear that he wants James to retire as a Laker and promised to provide him with every resource possible to compete for a championship each year he’s with the organization, sources said.
And while contract dialogue was broached, the majority of the hour-long meeting was about expressing concerns, and hearing out strategies and opinions to assure there wouldn’t be a repeat of last season’s epic failure, league sources told Yahoo Sports. James, sources said, drilled home the importance of consistent competitiveness and cohesion, noting that last season’s team didn’t give themselves a chance on many nights. The focus for the future Hall of Famer is competing every night in order to give themselves a chance to compete for a championship.
As for roster tinkering, Pelinka explained patience will be key in any potential moves the team makes, sources said. In a collaborative effort, all parties appear to be aligned on a common vision of seeing how the roster plays out before any drastic moves are sought.
Do you get the sense that the Lakers are trying to make two separate trades using the firsts? One with Westbrook and one with Horton-Tucker/Nunn/etc.? — @crownroyalpapi_ Jovan Buha: Yes, insofar as I think the ultimate price to trade Westbrook will include attaching two first-round picks. If the Lakers can finagle an alternate outcome — be it a pick swap or two second-round picks — that’s a win for them, in my opinion. That seems unlikely, though, which is why there’s a possibility Westbrook isn’t traded. Between the two trades mentioned, the Lakers would prefer the Irving option. I think that’s a deal they’d eventually be willing to include two first-round picks for. I don’t think they’d be willing to do so in the Indiana deal.
Nets star Kyrie Irving wants to make it clear he does not hate coach Steve Nash or general manager Sean Marks despite what a source told The Post about his feelings Monday. “I am not sure where this narrative is coming from but Kyrie does not hate Steve nor Sean. That’s not a part of his being nor how he represents himself in the world. He’s about peace, love and acceptance,” his agent and stepmother Shetallia Riley Irving told The Post.
Durant, among other things, was not consulted on the Nets’ firing of assistant coach and director of player development Adam Harrington when the season ended, the source believes. “There are simple things that erode a relationship. You fired someone he was close to and didn’t have a conversation about it,” the source said.