Al Horford

Atlantic Notes: Leonard, Nets, Horford, Barrett, Raptors

The Raptors’ pitch to Kawhi Leonard to remain with the organization is still being discussed but is near completion, GM Bobby Webster told the Toronto Star’s Doug Smith and other media members. “There’s definitely more (things to be done),” Webster said. “As you can imagine, there are a ton of thoughts and ideas.” Aside from the financial implications — the Raptors can offer their superstar a five-year deal worth nearly $190MM while other suitors can give him a four-year, $140.6MM contract — the organization is expected to emphasize its championship pedigree, the medical staff that earned Leonard’s trust, and a chance to keep winning in familiar surroundings, Smith adds.

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • The Nets have continued to clear cap room to sign two high-level free agents and there’s an expectation that this summer will be transformational for the Nets, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Draft-night trades cleared $2MM more in cap room, moving the team within $2MM of landing some combination of Leonard, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. GM Sean Marks indicated that going after big fish in free agency is the next logical leap for the franchise.
  • Al Horford would be a “no-brainer” free agent target for the Sixers if they don’t re-sign both Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Horford would be a natural fit at power forward alongside Joel Embiid and could play center in games that the oft-injured Embiid sits out, Pompey notes. Horford will decline his $30.1MM player option with the Celtics and pursue a multi-year contract in free agency.
  • There were mixed views on R.J. Barrett within the Knicks organization but GM Scott Perry was determined to draft the Duke freshman with the No. 3 pick, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Barrett made a strong impression during a June 10 visit with the Knicks. “When we bring guys in, we allowed them to spend time with the front-office staff, coaching and medical staff. It became apparent he was going to be an excellent fit from a culture standpoint,” Perry said. “He did nice things on the court when he worked with coaches. He reaffirmed what we had seen during the college season. … We were comfortable remaining in the draft position at 3.”
  • The Raptors had some discussions about moving into the late first round or early second round of the draft but weren’t willing to give up future assets, Blake Murphy of The Athletic tweets.

Western Notes: Dumars, Thompson, Horford, Morris, Zion

The Kings have named former Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars as a special advisor to GM Vlade Divac, according to a team press release. Dumars, who build Detroit’s 2004 championship team, stepped down from his post with the Pistons in April 2014. “Joe and I played together in the league and is a legend in our sport,” Divac said in a press release. “As an experienced and talented basketball executive, I’m excited to have him serve as a special advisor and expert resource for our incredible front office team.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Former Sixers forward Hollis Thompson will join the Kings’ summer league team, J.D. Shaw of Hoops Rumors tweets. Thompson hasn’t appeared in an NBA regular-season game since the 2016/17 season, when he played a combined 40 games for Philadelphia and New Orleans.
  • While numerous teams and agents believe Celtics big man Al Horford will receive a four-year, $112MM offer in free agency, it won’t be coming from the Mavericks, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Horford will decline his $30.1MM player option and has broken off negotiations with Boston.
  • Veteran NBA guard Darius Morris will play for the Spurs’ summer league squad, Shaw reports in another tweet. Morris hasn’t played in an NBA game since the 2014/15 season. He had stints with the Lakers, Sixers, Clippers, Grizzlies and Nets.
  • The Pelicans’ top executive, David Griffin, is trying his best to keep the pressure off top pick Zion Williamson. He said on Friday to ESPN”s Malika Andrews and other media members that Williamson doesn’t have the burden of “saving this franchise.” Griffin added that Williamson is not yet the face of the franchise. “This is Jrue Holiday‘s team,” Griffin said. “Zion is going to be learning how to win at a really high level. At some point, if there is a time that the baton gets passed in terms of who is expected to carry us to win games, it will. That is not now.”

Mavericks Considered Favorites For Al Horford?

4:01pm: Asked by Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News if the report on Horford and the Mavericks is accurate, a league source replied, “Not really.” However, that source didn’t offer any further clarification, tweets Townsend.

1:40pm: Al Horford is expected to leave the Celtics for a new team in free agency, and according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, league sources consider the Mavericks the favorites to land the veteran big man.

As O’Connor writes, the Lakers and Clippers are also said to have interest in Horford, but they’ll likely be setting their sights on higher-end targets such as Kawhi Leonard. The Nets have also been cited as a potential suitor for Horford.

Dallas would be an intriguing landing spot for the 33-year-old center. The Mavericks have the cap flexibility necessary to make a competitive offer to Horford without compromising their ability to extend Dwight Powell or lock up Kristaps Porzingis to a long-term contract. Those three bigs would provide balance and versatility at both ends of the floor for the Mavs.

Horford will reportedly seek a four-year contract on the open market, and one report indicated that he may even be looking to surpass $100MM on his new deal. That’d be a significant investment for a player entering his mid-30s who battled some nagging health issues last season, but the Mavs have shown in the past that they’re not shy about committing big money to second-tier free agents. They signed Wesley Matthews and Harrison Barnes to four-year, maximum-salary contracts in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

Free Agent Rumors: Horford, Nets, Suns, Stokes, Rockets

In a surprising development, Al Horford is expected to leave the Celtics to sign with a new team in free agency, as we relayed on Tuesday night. As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski explains in his story on the situation, the gap between what Boston was willing to offer and what Horford is seeking on a long-term deal was too significant to bridge. The Celtics and Horford’s agent Jason Glushon aren’t expected to re-open talks, Woj adds.

According to Marc Stein of The New York Times (via Twitter), there’s a belief in front office circles that Horford knows there will be a four-year offer worth $100MM+ waiting for him in free agency, which led to talks with the Celtics breaking down.

It will be fascinating to see if that sort of lucrative offer is actually on the table for a 33-year-old who battled nagging injuries last season. According to A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston (via Twitter), a league source says the Nets are a team to keep a close eye on, given their cap room and Horford’s connection to head coach Kenny Atkinson.

However, Kyrie Irving is believed to be headed to Brooklyn as a free agent, and Jeff Goodman of Stadium tweets that he would be “beyond surprised” if Horford teams up with Irving again after a disappointing season in Boston.

Here are a few more notes and rumors on 2019 free agency:

Al Horford Expected To Sign Elsewhere

In a major turn of events, Al Horford is expected to sign a four-year deal with a team outside of Boston, according to Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. Bulpett reports that Horford’s representation has ceased discussions with the Celtics on a new contract.

The big man decided to turn down his $30.1M player option for next season and was expected to entertain a three-year deal with the Celtics. The franchise was looking to bring Horford back on a lower annual salary in 2019/20 than he was scheduled to make in order to gain more cap flexibility. Boston believed the three-year deal was a fair trade-off.

The organization apparently has concerns about giving the 33-year-old Horford a four-year deal, so he will hit the free agent market looking to find that type of contract. The Celtics had been expected to lose Kyrie Irving in free agency, and are now preparing for both players to leave this summer, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

The Celtics will have roughly $70.2MM in guaranteed salaries on their books for the 2019/20 season with $32.7MM of that figure going to Gordon Hayward.

Al Horford Won’t Exercise 2019/20 Player Option

Celtics center Al Horford won’t pick up the 2019/20 player option on his contract, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports (via Twitter) that Horford is on track to reach unrestricted free agency.

If Horford had exercised his option for next season, it would have locked in his $30,123,015 salary. Instead, he’ll negotiate a new deal with Boston or a new team. Wojnarowski adds (via Twitter) that Horford and the Celtics have mutual interest in working out a new agreement in free agency.

While there has been an expectation all along that Horford and the Celtics will continue their relationship, either via his player option or a longer-term deal, the new level of uncertainty about the future in Boston has rival teams feeling more optimistic about making a run at the veteran big man, tweets ESPN’s Zach Lowe.

The Celtics’ original Plan A for this offseason was to lock up Kyrie Irving on a new contract and swing a deal for Anthony Davis. However, with Davis headed to Los Angeles and Irving’s future in Boston looking more tenuous than ever – Kyrie seems to have “essentially ghosted” the team, per Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe – the franchise’s direction is no longer clear.

Retaining Horford will be crucial for the Celtics after another season in which he served as the roster’s frontcourt anchor. He was limited to 68 games due to injury and his numbers (13.6 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 4.2 APG, and a .535 FG%) don’t necessarily jump off the page, but the 33-year-old was a linchpin on defense and an important screen-setter and pick-and-pop weapon on offense.

If the Celtics and Horford can work out a longer-term agreement that starts closer to $20MM, it should allow the team to re-sign Terry Rozier and have access to the full mid-level exception this offseason, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. As Marks points out (via Twitter), the club could also clear up to about $27MM in cap room, but that would mean renouncing Horford and Rozier along with Irving and Marcus Morris, which probably isn’t realistic.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Celtics Notes: Tatum, Horford, Rozier, Draft

The Celtics might have been willing to include Jayson Tatum in a trade for Anthony Davis, but they never would have matched the offer that the Lakers made for the Pelicans’ star, according to Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. Acquiring Davis was less risky for L.A. because of the likelihood he will re-sign there when he opts out of his current contract.

Boston was among the teams trying to work out a deal for Davis, but the offers never matched what was speculated when it seemed there was a chance to pair him with Kyrie Irving, Bulpett adds. With Irving believed to be headed for Brooklyn, the Celtics were wary about mortgaging their future when Davis had the option to leave after one season.

There’s more this morning from Boston:

  • The Celtics are trying to work out a longer-term deal with Al Horford, who must decide by tomorrow whether to opt into a $30.1MM salary for next season, Bulpett reports in the same story. The team is offering to add two years to Horford’s current deal if he agrees to accept a lower salary for 2019/20. Horford, who turned 33 this month, is one of the few veteran leaders on what’s shaping up to be a very young team next year. He is coming off another productive season, posting a 13.6/6.7/4.2 line in 68 games.
  • Restricted free agent Terry Rozier won’t have nearly the value on the open market that he would have last year, notes Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. A rival executive told Mannix that Rozier could have commanded $18-$20MM annually if he had reached free agency after leading the Celtics to the Eastern Conference finals in 2018. Interest has fallen after Rozier experienced an uneven season while trying to adjust to a backup role again. The Celtics will have added incentive to keep him with Irving expected to leave. “I’m a big fan of Terry’s,” president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said recently. “I think that if Terry was in the right circumstance and the right role, I think he would love playing in Boston, in my opinion. And if not, then I think Terry would let me know that. But Terry and I have a very good relationship, as Terry does with (coach) Brad (Stevens) as well.”
  • The failure to land Davis makes it more likely that the Celtics will hold onto all three of their first-round selections, states Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston (Twitter link). Boston has picks at No. 14, 20 and 22.

Celtics Rumors: Horford, Ainge, Kyrie, Rozier, Herro

If Al Horford opts out of his contract this month, he’s probably unlikely to top his $30MM+ player-option salary on the open market, but he should be able to top that total figure on a multiyear deal. That’s a scenario that intrigues the Celtics.

Speaking today to reporters, including Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald, C’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said that restructuring Horford’s contract into a longer, more cap-friendly deal is a “priority” for the club this summer.

NBA rules don’t technically allow teams to restructure contracts to reduce cap hits in the same way that NFL franchises can. But if Horford turns down his player option, he and the Celtics could essentially start from scratch on a new deal — it wouldn’t be a restructuring so much as a brand new contract. If the C’s are able to negotiate a starting salary in the range of, say, $20-25MM, it would create some added cap flexibility for the coming offseason.

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • Despite suffering a mild heart attack last month, Ainge said he’s feeling good and will continue to lead the Celtics going forward, writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. “My role is not going to change,” Ainge said.
  • We passed along some of Ainge’s comments on Kyrie Irving in an earlier story, but Boston’s president of basketball operations offered a few more observations on the All-Star point guard. As Himmelsbach relays, Ainge said he had no regrets about the risk the Celtics took when they acquired Irving in 2017, and dismissed the idea that Kyrie was largely to blame for the club’s struggles in 2018/19. “We had a lot of reasons the team did not succeed this year,” Ainge said. “Kyrie deserves his share of the blame, but not any more than anybody else. There’s a lot of guys that didn’t handle things the right way and didn’t make the sacrifices that needed to be done for the benefit of the team. So I think that they’re all going to learn from it, including Kyrie.”
  • Ainge praised restricted-free-agent-to-be Terry Rozier, despite the fact that Rozier has publicly griped about the role he had with the Celtics this season. “I think that if Terry was in the right circumstance and the right role, I think he would love playing in Boston,” Ainge said, per Himmelsbach.
  • Ainge also acknowledged that the Celtics will consider draft-pick trades and told reporters that Brad Stevens continues to meet with candidates to replace assistant coach Micah Shrewsberry, according to Murphy and Himmelsbach.
  • Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston tweets that the Celtics worked out Kevin Porter Jr. (USC), Luguentz Dort (Arizona State), Tyler Herro (Kentucky), Talen Horton-Tucker (Iowa State), Nickeil Alexander-Walker (VA Tech), and Skyler Flatten (South Dakota State) on Tuesday. Herro made a strong impression, per Aaron Torres of FOX Sports (Twitter link).

Atlantic Notes: Harris, Brogdon, Horford, Handy

The Sixers don’t know if free agent Tobias Harris will be on their roster next season, but two of his younger brothers might be, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Tyler Harris, 24, was part of the organization’s free agent workouts on Friday and Saturday and Terry Harris, 22, has a pre-draft session set for tomorrow.

The 24-year-old Tyler is a 6’10” forward who might be in the running for a two-way contract with the Sixers next season, according to Pompey. Terry, 22, is a 6’6″ forward who just completed his senior season at North Carolina A&T. He is projected as a possible late second-round selection and could be on the board when Philadelphia selects at No. 54. Terry had recent workouts with the Suns and Clippers and has sessions upcoming with the Kings, Nets and Mavericks.

Rashad Vaughn, Jamel Artis and Jamil Wilson were other players of interest at the Sixers’ free-agent workouts, Pompey adds.

  • Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon could be an attractive alternative if the Sixers can’t re-sign Harris or Jimmy Butler, Pompey suggests in a separate story. Brogdon will be a restricted free agent, but he could become expendable with Milwaukee facing a free agent crunch of its own. He was a steady contributor this year, posting a 15.6/4.5/3.2 line before his season was cut short by a plantar fascia tear in his right foot. Pompey states that Brogdon could work as a complement to Ben Simmons in the backcourt or he could become the primary ballhandler if the Sixers decide to make Simmons a forward.
  • The Rockets’ willingness to reshape their roster could provide an opportunity for the Celtics, states Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. The best chance for a deal, according to Forsberg, is if Kyrie Irving leaves Boston and the Celtics decide to commit to a youth movement. If Al Horford decides to opt into a $30.1MM salary, the organization may look to send him elsewhere, or there’s a chance both sides work out a sign-and-trade deal. In either scenario, Houston is an intriguing location because Horford met with the Rockets when he was a free agent in 2016. “It was a privilege,” Horford said at the time. “(Hakeem Olajuwon) and Clyde (Drexler) were there, and my dad went to high school here in Houston, and he was pushing Houston hard. Hakeem, to him, was a big deal.”
  • Sam Amick of The Athletic talks to Raptors assistant coach Phil Handy, who is facing the Warriors in the NBA Finals for the fifth straight year.

Atlantic Notes: Horford, Brown, Nets, Lowry

The Celtics can’t really start planning their offseason until they know if Al Horford is picking up his $30.1MM option for next season, writes Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Horford’s decision is due by June 18 and it will affect a lot of other areas in what could be a summer of change in Boston.

Horford’s choices are to either take the money, which is a hefty salary for a player about to turn 33, try his luck on the open market, or attempt to work out a longer deal with the Celtics that includes a smaller payment for next season. Forsberg notes that by opting in, Horford could make himself an attractive trade piece to help Boston match salaries in a deal for Anthony Davis or another star.

Even if the Celtics don’t get Davis and lose Kyrie Irving in free agency, Horford could be valuable to keep, Forsberg notes. He formed an effective combination with the team’s younger players during last year’s run to the conference finals.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • This will also be an important summer for Celtics swingman Jaylen Brown, who will be eligible for a rookie scale extension. Brown doesn’t have an agent, but he hopes the team will be open to talking about a long future together. “I’m 22 years old. I know I have a lot to learn,” he said. “I know the older guys on our team, I think they feel the same thing. They got a lot to learn, too. So, that’s a part of it; everybody growing.”
  • With rumors swirling of Irving possibly teaming up with D’Angelo Russell in the Nets‘ backcourt, the man who coached them both in high school believes they can be successful together. Marc Berman of The New York Post talked to Kevin Boyle, who knows both players as well as anyone. “I 1,000 percent think that could work,” Boyle said. “D’Angelo knows Kyrie, likes him, respects him. That could work with both sides. Kyrie could help D’Angelo to that top-10, top-15 level. I could see that blending together nicely. Not everybody fits with everybody. I don’t know why in Boston the things didn’t fit [for Irving], but it could fit there.”
  • Raptors guard Kyle Lowry is one win away from cashing in on a $500K bonus for reaching the NBA Finals, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. If he collects, it would add $1.25MM to the team’s luxury tax payment. Lowry would earn another $500K if the Raptors win the NBA title.