Celtics Notes: Horford, G. Williams, Smart, Udoka

Al Horford gave the Celtics a “hometown discount” by signing a two-year extension this week valued at $20MM, an Eastern Conference executive tells Sean Deveney of Heavy. The executive believes Horford could have received more money if he had waited for free agency, but at age 36 he wasn’t interested in leaving Boston for a rebuilding team.

“The teams with money next year are mostly young teams,” the executive said. “So maybe Horford was looking at the landscape and saw who had cap space and wound up saying, ‘I do not want to go to Houston, man.’ It is a win for both sides, really, but if he wanted to chase money, he could have gotten more.”

Horford’s team-friendly deal puts the Celtics in a better position to re-sign Grant Williams, Deveney adds. Horford is making $26.5MM this season and Williams is at $4.3MM in the final year of his rookie contract. Boston wants to keep their combined salaries in the same range, so the team could theoretically offer Williams a new deal starting at about $20MM per season. However, sources have told Deveney that the Celtics might be reluctant to match an offer for the restricted free agent that’s in the $18-20MM range.

“I don’t know that they would go into $20MM a year for Grant Williams,” the executive added. “I don’t know that anyone else would, either. But they have some cushion. If it winds up being $15MM a year for Grant, they can match that and still be in a position where they’re not adding to that (tax) burden.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • Horford is the latest in a series of players that president of basketball operations Brad Stevens has signed to extensions before their contracts expired, notes Souichi Terada of MassLive. Stevens said Horford’s versatility and leadership have been instrumental as the Celtics have compiled the league’s best record. “Al is such an important part of our team,” Stevens said. “He’s a high-level player who enhances everyone around him on both ends of the court. His work ethic, commitment to his body and craft, and his unselfishness set a daily example on how to win big in the NBA.”
  • Marcus Smart is listed as questionable for Sunday with a left hip contusion, Terada adds in a separate story. Derrick White will likely replace Smart in the starting lineup if he has to miss the game, according to Terada, while Malcolm Brogdon and Payton Pritchard would see increased minutes.
  • Actress Nia Long has criticized the Celtics for the way they handled the suspension of coach Ime Udoka, her longtime partner, per Kevin Slane of The Boston Globe. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Long said the team made details of the incident more public than they needed to be, which caused embarrassment for their 11-year-old son.
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