After underachieving in the first half of the 2020-21 season, must the Boston Celtics make a splash before the March 25 trade deadline to boost their NBA Finals prospects?
Rumors have linked a number of players in potential trades to Boston. We’ll examine a few possible Celtics trade targets and offer a verdict on whether the team should make the move. First up: Al Horford.
Although reunions often are fun, they rarely match the level of their origin stories.
With the Oklahoma City Thunder potentially putting Al Horford on the trade market, the aforementioned idea comes to mind as far as the Boston Celtics are concerned.
Horford starred for Boston for three seasons between 2016 and 2019 before leaving for the Philadelphia 76ers as a free agent. Horford never hit expected heights for the Sixers, and after one season, Philly traded him in November to OKC.
The Thunder reportedly are looking to move Horford’s big contract, likely seeking draft picks and other assets in return. Let’s examine the pros and cons of the Celtics trading for Horford.
Weight: 240 pounds
2020 Stats: 14.4 PPG, 6.7 REB, 3.3 AST, .9 BLK, .8 STL, 45.5 FG%, 37.6 3FG%
Contract Status: Horford is in the second year of a four-year, $109 million contract he signed in 2019.
Horford was popular in the Boston organization, with teammates, coaches and other staff hailing his ability and influence. Sure, he’s past his prime, but his drop-off hasn’t been dramatic enough to write him off as an impact player, and he would mentor younger teammates as he previously did.
Horford also still provides an interior defensive presence and can stretch the floor on offense. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge last month identified “size with shooting” as Boston’s biggest need. Horford would fit that bill.
The Celtics are sitting on a $28.5 million traded player exception. The best-case scenario has the Celtics using the TPE to acquire another piece of their long-term core. That’s one bill Horford wouldn’t fit, as he would take up the vast majority of the TPE.
Should the Celtics use one of their prized assets on an aging player, whose condition and performances both are expected to deteriorate further? Probably not. Although Horford would strengthen Boston’s bench, his arrival probably wouldn’t boost the Celtics into the ranks of elite Eastern Conference teams.
Regardless of what Horford’s sister, Anna, wants to see, the Celtics shouldn’t trade for the Thunder big man. It’s not enough of a return, and the Celtics will have other options for the TPE in the offseason.