Celtics Notes: Horford, Tatum, Holiday, Offseason, Ainge

No player in NBA history had appeared in more playoff games before winning a championship than Al Horford, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, who notes that the veteran center finally claimed his first title with a win in his 186th career postseason contest. Horford earned praise after Monday’s victory from his teammates, including Derrick White, who referred to the big man’s career as “so underrated,” and Finals MVP Jaylen Brown, who said the Celtics “leaned on (Horford) so much” during their championship season.

“Nobody deserved it more than Al,” Brown said. “He’s been a great not just leader on the court but off the court as well. … It’s been an honor to be by his side. And Al Horford is a real-life legend and hero. It’s been great to be his teammate.”

Horford turned 38 earlier this month, but he remains under contract with Boston for at least the 2024/25 season and it doesn’t sound like he has any plans to call it a career this summer.

“For me, I never really put a timeframe on it,” Horford told ESPN when asked on Sunday how long he’ll continue playing. “I want to make sure that I feel healthy, that I’m enjoying what I’m doing and for me, thankfully, I have my wife’s support and my family’s. That’s a big deal to me. … I feel like I’ve been asked this for a few years now and I feel good, I want to keep playing. Why not keep going? I don’t want to limit myself.”

Here’s more on the new NBA champions:

  • Not that there was any doubt, but ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (YouTube link) said on NBA Countdown on Sunday that the Celtics will put a five-year, super-max offer on the table for Jayson Tatum at some point in the coming days or weeks. The deal, which would begin in 2025/26, would be worth a projected $315MM, assuming the cap comes in at $141MM for ’24/25, then increases by 10% the following year.
  • Jrue Holiday earned a bonus worth $1,264,800 as a result of the Celtics’ championship, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. It’s the second time in the past four years Holiday has cashed in on that bonus in his contract — he also received it in 2021 when Milwaukee won the title. As Marks adds (via Twitter), Holiday earned a total of approximately $2.8MM in bonuses this season for six separate individual and team achievements.
  • Can the NBA’s best team get even better during the coming offseason? Mark Deeks of HoopsHype considers that question in his preview of the Celtics’ summer, while Marks (ESPN Insider link) also takes a look ahead at the key decisions and roster moves on tap this offseason in Boston.
  • The Celtics’ big bets on Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis last summer paid major dividends in the short term and put the team in a great position to vie for additional championships in the coming years, writes Brian Robb of MassLive.com.
  • While Brad Stevens signed off on those Holiday and Porzingis deals, among other moves that pushed the Celtics over the top, Danny Ainge’s fingerprints remain all over the team’s current roster, according to Robb, who spoke to Boston’s former president of basketball operations about his old club’s success. As Robb relays, Ainge said he’s “very happy” for the Celtics but declined to take any credit for this year’s championship run. “I feel fortunate to be a part, a very small part of all of their lives,” Ainge said. “I have a feeling that Jaylen and Jayson and Wyc (Grousbeck) and (Steven Pagliuca) and Joe (Mazzulla) and Brad and Payton Pritchard, Al Horford, the whole group, every one of those guys would have found success without me being involved.”
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