Al Horford, Danny Ainge Agree Celtics Aren’t Title Contenders Just Yet

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July 8, 2016

Al Horford was a huge addition for the Boston Celtics. It’s no exaggeration to say he’s the most significant free-agent signing in the franchise’s storied history.

But while the 30-year-old four-time All-Star immediately makes the Celtics a better team, he alone won’t push them into the NBA’s upper stratosphere, where the likes of the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs currently reside.

Both Horford and Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge admitted as much Friday at the forward’s introductory news conference.

“Right now, it definitely makes us better than we were last year,” Ainge told the assembled media contingent at the Celtics’ Waltham, Mass., practice facility. “We felt like we were rightfully the third seed in the Eastern Conference, and the addition of Al makes us a better team, for sure. His versatility, experience, leadership that we’ve all talked about today. But I think we’re not done. I think we still have work to do.”

The Celtics finished in a four-way tie for third place in the East last season and a series of tiebreakers resulted in them entering the playoffs as the conference’s No. 5 seed. They bowed out in the first round to Horford’s former team, the Atlanta Hawks, marking the fourth consecutive season in which Boston had failed to win a playoff series.

Horford, who on Friday said top free-agent prize Kevin Durant “definitely considered” Boston before ultimately signing with Golden State, offered an assessment similar to Ainge’s.

“I think that we’re making progress as a team,” Horford said an interview with CSNNE after the presser. “The biggest thing for us is to make sure that we keep working and be the best team that we can. Danny will have some decisions if he feels like he needs to make anything, but for me, I never make excuses. We’re going to come out, we’re going to work, we’re going to be the best team that we can, and you never know what could happen.

“But I’m very optimistic and excited with this group of players that we have.”

Thumbnail photo via Jason Getz/USA TODAY Sports Images

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