NBA Rumors: Celtics reportedly think teams tampered pursuing Al Horford

Gabby Guerard
July 19, 2019 - 8:57 am

At Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter’s introductory press conference, Danny Ainge said they were the Celtics’ “Plan A.”

That makes sense for Walker, because Kyie Irving made it clear right from the start that he wanted out of Boston. But what about bringing in Enes Kanter and losing Al Horford?

It was originally thought that Horford declining his $30.1 million option to become an unrestricted free agent was just a means to renegotiate a deal to stay in Boston. But when ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski announced that he was “prepared” to look for a three- or four-year deal with another team back on June 18, many fans were surprised.

It turns out the Celtics felt teams interfered during their pursuit of Horford, who signed a four-year, $109 million contract with the 76ers. Boston reportedly thinks teams already had deals on the table for the 6-foot-10 center before NBA free agency started, which impacted the Celtics’ being able to re-sign him.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said Boston complained of tampering on the latest Hoop Collective Podcast.

“I don’t know if you heard this, but the Celtics were, from what I am told, one of the teams that kind of stomped their feet about what they felt was tampering,” Windhorst told co-hosts Tim MacMahon and Jackie MacMullan. “Not with Kyrie, although that looked like it was lined up pretty far in advance, but with Horford.”

“What happened with Horford, again from what I’m told, really upset the Celtics,” he added. “They were thinking they were going to be able to negotiate with him. Talk to him about a new contract and all of a sudden it was like he already knew what his market was and he was out of there.”

Danny Ainge has not publicly indicated there was any interference with the Celtics’ pursuit of Horford during free agency. But, regardless of if tampering was a factor of not, the reality is Horford is in Philadelphia and not Boston.

Kanter will help in the Celtics’ frontcourt, along with Daniel Theis, but the team hasn’t been able to entirely replace what Horford brought to Boston. The five-time NBA All Star has 12 years of NBA experience, which he used to guide the Celtics’ young core of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.