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.
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.
Marc J. Spears: One NBA team executive said most free agents to be, i.e. Anderson, Horford, won’t commit to possible trade partners so that can impact deals
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 would turn 35 in the final year of his contract, which would pay him $32.7 million. 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 amount to one of the richest contracts in the NBA -- has the Hawks' brass a bit skittish.
The Hawks can put together a strong offer from a financial and familiarity standpoint, but are expected to listen to teams that inquire about Horford because they don’t want to risk losing him for nothing, league sources said. The NBA trade deadline is Feb. 18.
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.
“The city itself is a great city,” Horford told Yahoo Sports. “People are great. This Hawks’ organization is moving in the right direction. With the new ownership, with the coach, I really feel good about the future of the Hawks.”
Horford could potentially land more off-court opportunities in much stronger Spanish-speaking NBA markets in Florida, New York, Texas or California. “Atlanta has the potential for a guy like myself to maximize [the business] part of it,” Horford told Yahoo Sports. “But obviously there are other cities, bigger cities that are more appealing probably [business- and marketing-wise]. The impact would be bigger if that is what you are looking for.”
Atlanta owns Horford’s Bird rights, which allows it to offer more than any other team. The Hawks are interested in re-signing Horford, but at what price remains to be seen. "Al is a big part of our program and knows how much we value him,” Mike Budenholzer told Yahoo Sports. “Our focus and job remain the same, and that is building the best program possible and establishing a culture that Al and any other player would want to be part of. He is the type of player we want to continue building with now and into the future.”
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.”
October 6, 2022 | 12:53 pm EDT Update
Miami has earned the benefit of the doubt. It will have a stout, switchable defense even with Tucker gone. (The Heat have interest in Jae Crowder too, sources say, but finding matching salary is tough until Dewayne Dedmon, Caleb Martin and Victor Oladipo become trade-eligible in the winter. Martin might start, and the Heat are optimistic Oladipo can play a huge role.)
The Bucks have internal interest in Crowder as that Tucker replacement after getting into the recent Jerami Grant and Bojan Bogdanovic discussions, sources say. They will search all season for one more piece.
If Wednesday’s postgame words were any indication, he’ll hope respect begets respect and not demand anything from the referees. “I appreciate the refs,” Maxey said. “They’re great. They’ve been doing a great job. They’ve been tasked with a very hard job. A lot of our guys probably are tough on them. So they’re doing a great job and I have nothing but respect for every single ref in our league. “I just go out there and try to play hard, go to the rim, and sometimes draw contact, get to the line and help us move the scoreboard.”