Asked about the possibility that Al Horford could opt out of the final year of his deal (and $30.1 million) and negotiate a potential extension to stay in Boston, Ainge said, "That will be discussed. That’s one of the priorities on our list as well.”
The Celts still have to find out what Al Horford wants to do. The veteran can opt out of the approximately $29 million he has coming next year, and, according to a league source, Horford would like to stay. The source added that he’d take a more team-friendly number for next season if he can get two more years tacked on.
Few people have been talking about his future in Boston because most people assumed Horford would either opt in to the $30 million or opt out and sign a longer-term deal with Boston. Not many people expected a third option of possibly leaving, maybe not even Horford himself. “It’s something that I haven’t even stopped to think about,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed being here in Boston. Just have to wait and see what we’re going to do as a team. And it’s steps that the management is going to do moving forward, and continue to get better.”
As for the future, Horford can also opt out of his contract to become a free agent next summer, but at the moment, he sounds as committed as his point guard. “If they want me here, I’m very happy,” Horford says. Looking around the brand-new Celtics practice facility at his teammates, Horford points out that it wasn’t like this when he first decided to come to Boston. He remembered the recruiting pitch, sitting in front of Stevens, Ainge and owner Wyc Grousbeck. They told him about “all these assets.” There were picks, there was cap space. “Maybe we sign a superstar here or there,” they told him. “We’re able to make a trade. We’re able to really make a team that’s great.”
For Horford to make that kind of sacrifice, he has to be comfortable in Boston for the long-term. It needs to be a place where he feels good about ending his career. He confirmed that was the case in an exclusive interview on Wednesday. “No question,” Horford said on whether he envisioned himself finishing his career in Boston.
"He's a perfect fit," Crowder said. "That's what we were telling him. He had Washington and some other teams looking at him, but we beat them four times this year. You don't want to go there. We play through our bigs, and a lot of teams don't play through their bigs — they post them up and give them the ball. Our bigs, like he did in Atlanta, he makes the play. We were explaining our basketball terminology to him, and how ours will fit right in with (his) game. It's going to mesh. Most guys have to blend in and fit in, but it's going to be automatically just there. The style he plays, that's what we reiterated to him: The way we play fits you so well. We need you. You need us. Let's make it happen."
Jason Lieser: Pat Riley says Al Horford was not a free agent target. Heat eliminated that option as soon as Hassan Whiteside agreed to his deal.
In the end, what did it come down to for you to leave? Al Horford: It was extremely difficult but at the end looking at the future of the team and having an opportunity to win in a different scenario for me. It wasn’t an easy decision for me but I think at the end Boston just felt it was the best fit for me when looking at everything from their players top to bottom, the amount of players they had and the potential there.
Were you still with the Hawks right up to the end? Al Horford: At the beginning my plan was to stay (in Atlanta). I started to see that when the team stepped up and did what they had to do, I didn’t think we were on the same page. That’s when I was forced to start looking at other options. Q. Are you talking about the Hawks signing Dwight Howard? Al Horford: No, it was more from a financial standpoint.
Agent Jason Glushon has opened his own agency and negotiated forward Al Horford’s $113 million, four-year maximum free agent deal with the Boston Celtics. Glushon opened Glushon Sports Management after leaving Wasserman in May. Horford followed Glushon to his new agency, which is based in Los Angeles.
The Celts did get Al Horford to agree to a free agent deal, a move the now-former Atlanta center delivered via Twitter after Ainge, Brad Stevens, ownership, a group of players and Tom Brady had met with Durant in the Hamptons earlier on Saturday. But Durant may have been ahead of the C’s on that news. “I got the impression that they knew something before we did,” said Ainge. “I know that they had some conversation. They were very familiar with what Horford was choosing between. It seemed to me in the presentation like Al and KD had been discussing their plans together.”
Brian Robb: Breakdown of Al Horford's 4-year deal: 2016-17: $26,540,100 2017-18: $27,734,405 2018-19: $28,928,709 2019-20: $30,123,014 (player option)
Factor No. 1, according to league sources: Horford was none too pleased with how reluctant the Hawks were to come forward with a full five-year max. Factor No. 2: Atlanta's signing of Dwight Howard. Could there be a more contradicting force in the NBA to Horford than Howard, in terms of substance vs. style? "He didn't want to play with Dwight," a person familiar with the situation told CBS Sports.
David Aldridge: This will be little solace to Washington & their fans, but it was really, really close between the Cs & Wiz. Details in a few on @NBATV!
Boston, which met with Durant on Saturday evening, may have boosted its chances of landing Durant by reaching an agreement with free-agent forward Al Horford on Saturday. Rich Kleiman, Durant's agent, had been recruiting Horford to join Oklahoma City, according to a source.
One person with knowledge of the situation said the addition of Al Horford to the Celtics could play a part in Durant's decision, but it will not be an overriding factor.
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.
August 16, 2022 | 2:22 am EDT Update
Chris Haynes: Minnesota Timberwolves star Rudy Gobert will face the Utah Jazz for the first time on Oct. 21 in Minnesota and will return to Utah for the first time as an opponent on Dec. 9, league sources tell @YahooSports.
Marc Stein: The Knicks are scheduled to be in Dallas for former Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson’s return to Big D on Dec. 27, league sources tell me, two days after New York hosts Philadelphia on Christmas. More NBA from me: marcstein.Substack.com
Sean Cunningham: The Sacramento Kings will be opening the 2022-23 NBA season on the home court of Golden 1 Center against the Portland Trail Blazers on Oct. 19th, according to sources. @CarmichaelDave first to report.
Windhorst went on to say the Nets aren’t coming off asking for a big return for Durant in a trade. And that Brooklyn has no leverage with other teams, same as Durant has no leverage with the Nets. “I think what we have here is really a study of leverage. First off, the Nets do not have leverage in trade talks with other teams. They are not giving them the offers that they want. They see no reason to increase them. So, they’re not making any progress there,” said Windhorst. “Kevin Durant clearly does not have leverage with the Brooklyn Nets. He is asking for things: ‘Get me traded. Fire the coach. Fire the GM.’ He is being told no. So, when you have denied leverage, you have a stalemate.”
When it comes to Simmons, his unique skill set is incredibly enticing, but his best ability will be availability. Fortunately, according to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, that won’t be a problem for Simmons in 2022-23: “You and Kyrie and Ben Simmons — who, by the way, news flash here. I ran into Ben Simmons. He and I had a nice conversation … I support the brother. I had a problem with him not playing. That’s the past. He’s ready to go. He swears he’s ready to go.”