Celtics Notes: Horford, G. Williams, Mazzulla, R. Williams

Al Horford seemed to accept a deal below his market value when he agreed to a two-year, $20MM extension with the Celtics in December, but an unidentified league executive tells Steve Bulpett of Heavy that Horford’s decision was likely driven by market realities as well as his loyalty to Boston. Although Horford remains productive, he’ll turn 37 this summer. Most of the teams with cap room are rebuilding and won’t be looking for older players.

“Look at Boston. This is a perfect situation — for both sides,” the executive said. “Al’s a really important part of what they do. But if they didn’t already have him — if he was a free agent last summer — they wouldn’t have been able to spend big money on him. But it’s clear he wanted to stay there now, and this deal is good for him, too. He didn’t break the bank, but after all that he’s made in his career, that probably wasn’t that important to him. He gets good money to be where he really wants to be. There’s a value in that. And by signing for two more years now, it also covers him in the event of an injury that either stops him from playing or makes him a lot less effective.”

Horford was a fixture in Boston for three years before accepting a big-money offer from the Sixers in 2019. Earlier this season, Horford told Bulpett that the disruptive atmosphere Kyrie Irving brought to the Celtics played a role in his decision to move on.

“I just think that if Kyrie would have stayed, I don’t know if it would have worked,” Horford said. “There would have had to be some major changes as far as players, because it was just clear that the group that we had just wasn’t going to be able to coexist.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • Grant Williams logged 18 minutes Friday night after not playing at all on Wednesday. A prolonged shooting slump from beyond the arc and the addition of Mike Muscala at the trade deadline have cut into playing time for Williams, who will be a restricted free agent this summer, notes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. “He knows what he brings to this team and the type of player he is,” Jaylen Brown said of Williams. “He’s been able to carve value out in this league, so a couple games here and there based upon whatever the coaching staff thinks doesn’t mean any more or less.”
  • Joe Mazzulla has done an admirable coaching job, but there were red flags as a 28-point lead disappeared in Friday’s loss to the Nets, writes Brian Robb of MassLive. Mazzulla was reluctant to match up when Brooklyn used smaller lineups and his bench remains disorganized beyond Derrick White and Malcolm Brogdon, Robb observes.
  • Robert Williams has been ruled out for Sunday after leaving Friday’s game with tightness in his left hamstring, tweets Tim Bontemps of ESPN.
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