Well that escalated quickly.
Celtics big man Al Horford will not return to the Celtics next season according to a report from Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald.
Major change in the Al Horford situation:
Per source close to Horford, his side is no longer discussing a new 3-year deal to stay with the Celtics. He is expected to sign a 4-year free agent contract elsewhere…
Story to come.
— Steve Bulpett (@SteveBHoop) June 18, 2019
Earlier today Horford opted out of the final year of his contract with Boston. It was believed that he and the Celtics would try and reach a new team friendly 3-year extension but according to Bulpett those talks came to an abrupt end.
“And while it’s not known yet how precisely how Horford felt about the Celtics’ prospects moving forward as he seeks to win a championship in this latter stage of his career, it seems almost certain that he is aware another club is willing to go to a fourth year with him.
This therefore appears to simply be a move for a better chance at a championship with a club willing to pay him more on a longer term contract.”
The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach reported that the Celtics knew Horford was looking to sign elsewhere but were still hopeful they could reach a deal before free agency begins.
This is all a full about face from what many people close to Horford and Horford himself were saying up to this point.
After the season Horford told our own Sierra Goodwill that he wanted to return to the Celtics.
Al Horford on if he wants to continue his career in Boston:
— Sierra Goodwill (@SierraGoodwill) May 9, 2019
Celtics President of Basketball operations Danny Ainge had openly expressed his desire to bring Horford back, confident something could be worked out.
Al’s sister Anna told CLNS Media on the Horford Happy Hour podcast that her big brother loves it here and wants to return but today was more cryptic in her tweets telling followers that she couldn’t provide any new information.
Still waiting on details. It’s possible now that the Celtics whiffed on Anthony Davis and will also presumably lose Kyrie Irving as well that Horford realized the Celtics window to win has closed.
It’s also possible that there’s just a lot more money to be had in free agency than the Celtics were willing to offer.
Horford has spent three years in Boston and averaged 13.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 4.2 assists last year.
Replacing his production and veteran presence will be a daunting task for a team that now looks like it is in full rebuild mode.