On Wednesday, The Athletic’s Shams Charania said on NBA XM Radio that Al Horford, who will hit the free agency market on June 30, has drawn interest from the Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets.
The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor also reported that the Los Angeles Clippers will pursue Horford in free agency, with the Mavericks emerging as the favorites to sign him.
Horford will have his options, and any team he signs with will improve because of his ability to defend well and spread the floor with his shooting ability.
This past season, Horford averaged 13.6 points per game on 53.5 percent shooting from the field while grabbing 6.7 rebounds per game. He also shot 36.0 percent from the three-point line.
In three seasons with the Celtics, Horford was a key piece, especially when matching up with the Sixers. Horford has defended Joel Embiid as well as anyone, as he has done well taking him out the post.
Horford apparently leaving the Celtics comes as a bit of a surprise, but perhaps not as much of a surprise as the Sixers being mentioned as a potential suitor.
The Sixers don’t have enough cap space to sign Horford, who will be opting out of $30 million. The only way the Sixers could sign Horford this summer is if Butler or Harris don’t sign contracts with the team; Philly could also sign Horford if Butler and Harris both don’t sign with the Sixers.
The Lakers may have a legit shot at signing Butler, and Butler even liked a post on Instagram of LeBron James and Anthony Davis being in Lakers jerseys. Butler will reportedly decline his player option and become an unrestricted free agent; he will likely command a max contract this summer.
The Sixers also have to account for signing Tobias Harris, who reportedly has suitors in the Mavericks, Indiana Pacers, Brooklyn Nets, Sacramento Kings and Utah Jazz. It will be interesting to see where the Sixers will have the money come from, as signing Butler, Harris and JJ Redick is what they’re reportedly focused on.
Still, if the Sixers got Horford he would add to their interior defense; him and Embiid would be two dominant forces down low. Also, Horford would take away attention from Embiid, as he is a modern stretch five. His ability to shoot well would pull defenses away from Embiid in the post could help preserve the franchise’s “crown jewel,” but at what cost?
What do the Sixers have up their sleeves? Or is the team merely making contingency plans in case they are able to manufacture cap space?
Perhaps we’ll find out soon enough.