NBA rumors: Rockets eyeing Al Horford

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.

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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.”
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.”
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.
Ben Rohrbach: Celtics think they have a real shot to sign Al Horford in free agency, per Adrian Wojnarowski here yhoo.it/1TKdKMH
Al Horford: The 29-year-old has been pegged by many teams as the best free-agent center on the open market. Although he doesn’t have the upside of Hassan Whiteside or Andre Drummond, Horford has tremendous value based on his ability to play power forward and center. A trade-deadline target by teams, Horford will have plenty of suitors in July. Horford will have full Bird rights and Atlanta can offer the maximum salary at $25 million per year.
It was surprising that the Atlanta Hawks didn't pull the trigger on any deal for point guard Jeff Teague. With Al Horford set to be an unrestricted free agent in July, they did the right thing and gauged his value around the league, asking for the moon -- multiple firsts and a young foundation player. No one bit, but Atlanta was right to ask. (The Hawks still have a very good chance of re-signing Horford this summer.)
But a source told Sporting News that the Magic will have an interest in Hawks big man Al Horford — and the interest would be mutual. Horford helped lead Florida to back-to-back NCAA championships in 2006 and 2007, spending three years as a student in Gainesville. Horford can be a free agent this summer, and while he has been happy with the Hawks, there’s no doubt that Atlanta was fielding offers for him in the last week before deciding to stand pat.
That means any team acquiring him via trade runs the risk of him being an end-of-the-season rental player with Horford set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Boston would still take that risk, but there would most likely be some reassurances before the deal is consummated that the 29-year-old Horford (He'll be 30 in June) would be strongly considering re-signing with the Celtics for what would most likely be a near-max contract.
The Heat likes Horford and acquiring him would give Miami a clear advantage in signing him as a free agent this summer, because (as ESPN noted), Horford values the fifth year of a contract, which is something that only his incumbent team could give him, with other suitors limited to four-year offers.
Of all the All-Stars who actually had cause to face up to trade questions ahead of Thursday’s deadline, Atlanta’s Al Horford was the most realistic to be involved in a deal. Horford left an All-Star break vacation to be in Toronto, a late fill-in for the injured Chris Bosh, but arrived as his name was being wrung through the rumor mill. Horford is a free agent this summer, and though the Hawks could lose him for nothing, a league source told Sporting News that he has not sought a trade or informed the Hawks he would not stay in Atlanta. The same source said the Hawks are not actively shopping Horford, either.
Which one is your favorite city: your hometown of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic; where you attended high school in Grand Ledge, Michigan; college town of Gainesville, Florida or Atlanta? Al Horford: Oh, my. Well, let's see ... Each and every one of those cities possess that emotional value for me, but I would have to say Atlanta is where I have been the longest in my life until now and where I achieved my dream (of playing in the NBA).
This realization has prompted Atlanta to think long and hard about Horford, who is in the final year of a five-year, $60 million contract extension. The Hawks must decide whether to re-sign their big man to a hefty five-year deal, or try to move him now while they can get value.
Because of the anticipated demand, Horford is likely to receive offers up to the maximum amount, which would be $144.5 million over five years should he stay with the Hawks. Under that kind of contract, Horford would turn 35 (and would earn $32.7 million) in the final year of the deal. Sources say that while ownership has pledged to both spend and to entrust the Hawks' basketball minds to make basketball decisions, that figure, along with the overall tab -- which would be one of the richest contracts in the NBA -- has the Hawks' brass a bit skittish. Should Horford remain with the Hawks through the conclusion of the season, a rival team could offer him a maximum of four years and $107.3 million.
This realization has prompted Atlanta to think long and hard about Horford, who is in the final year of a five-year, $60 million contract extension. The Hawks must decide whether to re-sign their big man to a hefty five-year deal, or try to move him now while they can get value. If the Hawks decide to test the market for Horford, numerous teams would potentially show interest. Sources inform ESPN that the Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, and Magic have been the most aggressive in looking to acquire a veteran difference maker.
Horford, a three-time All-Star, is making $12 million in the final year of his contract and will be an unrestricted free agent this off-season. Atlanta can offer Horford a maximum five-year, $146 million contract, which Horford is seeking, a source told Yahoo Sports.
There is a sense among NBA insiders that a hefty offer could steal Horford away from the Hawks, especially if the team continues to regress from their record setting form from last season.
Lastly, I know you've said you're waiting after the season to figure out your contract situation. What led you to that decision? [Horford will be a free agent in 2016.] Horford: For me, I'm very happy in Atlanta. It's one of those things where I don't want any contract talks to be a distraction for my team and me. I feel like my focus this year is for us to build and be better. Since we can't do anything right now, we'll wait until the season's over and then we can start talking about all that.
“My focus right now is to get better individually and help our team be the best team that we can be,” Horford told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Tuesday. “I have the same mindset and that is to help our team win and put us in a good position and try to be better. As far as the contract stuff, I’m going to wait until the season is over. I’m not going to let that linger and be a distraction. The focus is to be on the Hawks, on our team and getting better. Once the season ends, we’ll be able to sit down and talk and figure out all of that.”
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Dylan Windler won’t play in preseason opener

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Shaquille O'Neal jealous of LeBron James passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's scoring record

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