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NBA free agency rumor: Celtics will pursue Al Horford

He's one of my favorite free agent targets.

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

There were rumors at the trade deadline that the Celtics were interested in Al Horford. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that, according to ESPN's Marc Stein, offseason rumors are linking the Celtics to the free-agent big man.

Atlanta Hawks also want to get involved in Kevin Durant sweepstakes

The Hawks, of course, face a stiff challenge in trying to retain Horford, who sources say is expected to draw free-agent interest from a number of teams, including the Lakers, Rockets, Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons, Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets.

I know that Horford turned 30 years old earlier this month, but I think he's got a few good years left in him, and I wouldn't hesitate to give him a max contract.

Some fans will question that stance, saying that he isn't a "max guy." To which I respond that a) yes he is, and b) even guys that aren't super-duper-stars are going to be getting max deals this summer—so you might as well get used to it.

If you need further convincing, consider this evaluation that ranked Horford the 4th best free agent, behind only Durant, LeBron, and Drummond.

2016 NBA free agency: Top 50 players |

​A player of considerable understatement. Watch the Hawks on occasion and you may gloss over Horford’s subtle defensive positioning, heady passing and gravity on the perimeter. Tune in on a more regular basis and his influence becomes glaring. Some players are simply best appreciated in volume, when the whole of their contributions form more complete trends. It’s no mistake that most teammates seem to fare better when Horford is around; his skill set slides neatly into whatever a coach aims to run and complements players of all kinds.

Can you imagine what Brad Stevens could do with a guy like Horford? Oh, and I think it is worth noting that he'd be a perfect complimentary star next to Durant or Butler or just about any other star player. Just food for thought.

Of course Horford will have plenty of suitors and could elect to stay in Atlanta for the rest of his career. But if we have any legitimate shot with him, I hope Ainge puts on the full-court press to get it done.

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