The hits keep on coming. Most had long assumed that Al Horford would be back on a team friendly deal for the next three years and reports earlier today indicated just such a scenario.
Steven Bulpett of the Herald is reporting a major change in that philosophy.
Major change in the Al Horford situation:— Steve Bulpett (@SteveBHoop) June 18, 2019
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.
Woj followed up:
Boston and Al Horford had discussed contract scenarios, but the gulf is too great for sides to believe they can close on a new deal now, league sources tell ESPN. Horford is prepared to enter the free agency to find a three or four year deal elsewhere.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 18, 2019
Per sources, the Celtics have been aware of Horford's interest in signing elsewhere for a few days. The team has not given up hope of trying to convince him to stay, however.— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) June 19, 2019
Bulpett later elaborated in his column:
Kyrie Irving’s expected free agent departure for Brooklyn, reported here last week, is not said to have had any effect on Horford’s decision. As well, Horford and multiple people around him have insisted he is happy with Boston and the Celtics’ organization. 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.
Nobody will fault Horford for taking stock of his situation and deciding to look for a big role on a title contender. That’s his right as a free agent and he’s been nothing but a professional and leader in Boston.
Clearly this would be a huge blow to the Celtics next-steps plans and could greatly alter their draft strategy for Thursday night.
As Keith Smith reports, the Celtics can now free up a lot of cap space to chase free agents.
Celtics could now pivot to being a cap space team, with reports that Kyrie Irving and Al Horford will leave Boston.— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) June 18, 2019
If Boston clears the decks of all free agents, they’ll have nearly $28M in cap space. That number could rise if they trade or stash a draft pick.
It was clear at the end of the season that something had to change in Boston, but I wasn’t exactly expecting all of this.