The Hawks plan to offer the maximum salary to Al Horford when he becomes a free agent this summer, as Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution confirmed on the CSNNE.com Celtics Talk podcast Thursday in advance of Atlanta’s first-round playoff series against Boston (audio link; scroll to 17:10 mark). That’s no surprise, though whether the Hawks are prepared to make a full five-year max offer to the big man who turns 30 in June remains to be seen.
Atlanta likes rim protection at the center position, but other teams like him for his floor-stretching capabilities, Vivlamore observes. Horford reportedly places a high priority on signing for five years, which he can only do with the Hawks, but just about every other team in the league is nonetheless eyeing him, Vivlamore says, mentioning the Cavaliers, Raptors and Celtics specifically. Vivlamore makes similar remarks in a video with CineSport’s Noah Coslov on the Journal-Constitution site.
The Magic and Horford apparently share a mutual interest, but the Jason Glushon client enjoys playing in the Atlanta system, according to Vivlamore, who believes his fondness for Atlanta’s schemes will play a role in his decision. Vivlamore pegs the chances of Horford re-signing with the Hawks at 90%.
The starting salary in a max deal for Horford, a ninth-year veteran, will be around $25MM, with a salary cap expected to be at least $90MM. The Hawks, with close to $52MM in guaranteed salary already committed, would have a tight squeeze to re-sign fellow soon-to-be free agent Kent Bazemore if they bring back Horford at the max, since they only have Bazemore’s Early Bird rights. The swingman is poised for an outsized payday after a breakout season.
Horford is No. 5 in the latest 2016 Hoops Rumors Free Agent Power Rankings, one spot ahead of Atlanta native Dwight Howard. Kris Willis of Peachtree Hoops discussed Horford’s free agency with Hoops Rumors in an interview we posted earlier today.