Al Horford will be among the most popular free agents this summer, but he didn’t sound ready to leave Atlanta after the Hawks were eliminated today, relays Chris Vivlamore of the Journal-Constitution. “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,” Horford said. The Hawks are planning to offer Horford a maximum contract, and several other teams are expected to bid on him. The nine-year veteran made $12MM this season but could more than double that amount in free agency.
The Hawks are the only team Horford has played for, and he has developed a strong attachment to Atlanta. “I’ve set up here with my family,” he said. “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 [Florida] Gator. They loved me. I really love the city.”
There’s more from the Southeast Division:
- The Hawks need “major change and major improvement,” starting with a go-to scorer who can carry the team late in games, writes Jeff Schultz of The Journal-Constitution. Schultz says Paul Millsap disappeared too often in the playoffs, and Horford isn’t strong enough in the paint or reliable enough outside to be a dependable scorer. The writer adds that Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroder are too inconsistent, while Kyle Korver is headed toward reserve status and Kent Bazemore may be leaving as a free agent.
- The Wizards would have drafted Dwight Powell in 2014 and may take another shot at the Dallas big man in free agency, according to J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic. Washington was one pick away from landing Powell when he went at No. 45 to the Hornets. The Wizards sold their pick to the Lakers after he was taken. Powell, who earned $845K this season, will be a restricted free agent and could fill a backup role in Washington.
- Small forward Nicolas Batum plans to make the Hornets his top priority when free agency arrives, as the The Associated Press relays. Batum, who has played one season in Charlotte after being traded from Portland, is encouraged by the team’s potential. “I want to talk to [the Hornets] first, for sure,” Batum said. “July 1st will be a crazy day, but will Charlotte be my first call? Yes.” Hornets starters Courtney Lee, Marvin Williams and Al Jefferson will also be unrestricted free agents, and reserve point guard Jeremy Lin is expected to opt out.