Al Horford’s knowledge of a big payday elsewhere reportedly led to talks with Celtics ending

Nick Friar
June 19, 2019 - 6:15 am

Al Horford electing to opt-out of the final year of his contract with the Celtics on Tuesday was expected. What wasn’t was Horford deciding he didn’t want to re-sign with the Celtics.

Danny Ainge seemed to think restructuring Horford’s situation was possible just a few weeks ago, though Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe did report on Tuesday the C’s had known for a few days Horford was looking elsewhere.

Then, after all the dust settled from Tuesday’s chaos, Marc Stein of the New York Times reported Horford “knows there’s a four-year contract worth in excess of $100 million waiting out there for him June 30.”

Yeah, he wasn’t getting that from the Celtics (clearly). And if some team really is willing to commit to Horford in that capacity, it’d be ridiculous for him to pass that up.

It’d be one thing if the Celtics were looking like Eastern Conference favorites or Horford was “the guy” that could turn the franchise into that next-level-type team. (Kind of like Kyrie Irving.) He’s a quality player, no questions asked. But with this new, unexpected era of Celtics basketball set to have a very young feel, maybe the 33-year-old big man wasn’t the right fit anymore.

Furthermore, Horford’s departure gives the Celtics a chance to go after a big name, so long as they don’t re-sign Marcus Morris, Terry Rozier and the other free agents. If Boston finds itself in that scenario, the C’s would be working with north of $27 million.

And the Celtics will have more at their disposal if they draft-and-stash or trade any picks. The number could climb to $32.7 million, as Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer points out, if the Celtics draft-and-stash and/or trade all three of their first-round picks — which would allow them to go after a max-level free agent.