Al Horford - the Celtics' Resurrected Saviour of the Season

NomarsFool

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One could be forgiven for considering the return of Al Horford for Kemba Walker as pure salary ballast. One could also be forgiven for assuming that after this season, Horford was highly likely to be cut (by the Celtics or a team he was traded to) as only $14.5 million of his $26.5 million salary for next season is guaranteed.

But, is that a guarantee?

He's now having his 3rd best season in 2PT FG% of his entire career.

His rebounds per 36 are his best since he was 24 years old.

His best FT% of his career.

His blocks per 36 ties the best of his entire career.

Bottom line, he's actually contributing - and contributing quite a bit - which is not really what I expected. So, what do the Celtics do? If they trade him this summer, is it correct that they can only count the guaranteed part of his salary in a trade?
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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One could be forgiven for considering the return of Al Horford for Kemba Walker as pure salary ballast. One could also be forgiven for assuming that after this season, Horford was highly likely to be cut (by the Celtics or a team he was traded to) as only $14.5 million of his $26.5 million salary for next season is guaranteed.

But, is that a guarantee?

He's now having his 3rd best season in 2PT FG% of his entire career.

His rebounds per 36 are his best since he was 24 years old.

His best FT% of his career.

His blocks per 36 ties the best of his entire career.

Bottom line, he's actually contributing - and contributing quite a bit - which is not really what I expected. So, what do the Celtics do? If they trade him this summer, is it correct that they can only count the guaranteed part of his salary in a trade?
Yes it is correct that they can only count the guaranteed part of his contract in his trade but the Cs would likely guarantee all or part of the rest of his contract if he were to be traded.

What will the Cs do with Al next year? I think statistics and eye test lines up that Al has been pretty impactful. Maybe Al has learned his lesson and is willing to stay with the Cs by signing an extension that lowers his cap number? Who knows. But all I can say is that POBOBS really upgraded that roster spot when he swapped Kemba plus #16 for Al.
 

chilidawg

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I think a lot will depend on how well the rest of the season and and playoffs go for both Al and the team. If they have a good run and he continues to play well there will be a strong incentive to keep him for another year or two. My hope is that that is the outcome.

Raptor: 4th in DRaptor, 34th overall.
Lebron: 2nd in DLebron, 10th overall.
 

benhogan

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Horford for Kemba deal made sense on so many levels, it was pitched around here a dozen times last season. Brad didn't even wait for the paint to dry in his new office to make that move.

It's nice that there isn't a gun to Brad's head this summer if he can't find the deal he wants.
They don't have to guarantee the $26.5MM until Jan.7, 2023 Might be here for the first half of next season. BUT doubt they are paying full freight for Horford after then.
 

Eddie Jurak

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I think the most likely scenario is that Horford will be back next year at the full $26.5M. Actually, I think they don't even have to decide that right away, do they? They can just keep him but maintain the right to cut him before January 2023 when his full deal becomes guaranteed.

Anyway, he's clearly in the category of roster players that Boston would trade in the right deal. (In other words, his first name does not start with J and he was not drafted 3rd overall.) So, if his $26.5M salary can facilitate a big deal, he'll be traded. The Theis reacquisition and Grant's emergence give Boston the flexibility to trade him if a good deal is available.

On the other hand, they don't have to trade him. He clearly can still play. If the right deal is not there in the offseason, they can carry him into the season and continue to look for a deal until January. At that point, they will have a decision to make - guarantee him for the full season, or cut him, or look for a deal to unload his contract.

In terms of Al's future, I think it would be hard to work out a new deal for a lower cap number that both sides would like. He's 35 but he might be a modern-day Chief and have 3 or 4 more good years left in him. I could see him playing out the contract with the Celtics and then re-signing at a lower cap number, but probably only for a 1 or 2 year deal.
 

lovegtm

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I think the most likely scenario is that Horford will be back next year at the full $26.5M. Actually, I think they don't even have to decide that right away, do they? They can just keep him but maintain the right to cut him before January 2023 when his full deal becomes guaranteed.

Anyway, he's clearly in the category of roster players that Boston would trade in the right deal. (In other words, his first name does not start with J and he was not drafted 3rd overall.) So, if his $26.5M salary can facilitate a big deal, he'll be traded. The Theis reacquisition and Grant's emergence give Boston the flexibility to trade him if a good deal is available.

On the other hand, they don't have to trade him. He clearly can still play. If the right deal is not there in the offseason, they can carry him into the season and continue to look for a deal until January. At that point, they will have a decision to make - guarantee him for the full season, or cut him, or look for a deal to unload his contract.

In terms of Al's future, I think it would be hard to work out a new deal for a lower cap number that both sides would like. He's 35 but he might be a modern-day Chief and have 3 or 4 more good years left in him. I could see him playing out the contract with the Celtics and then re-signing at a lower cap number, but probably only for a 1 or 2 year deal.
Yeah if Al does make it through this year with the Celtics, coming back on a 1-2 year deal makes a lot of sense. He's made a ton of money in his career now (3 post-rookie deals), and seems to like Boston and the organisation a lot.

That said, I think it's exceedingly likely that he moves this summer in a S&T or normal trade to get a shooting wing/big guard.
 

NomarsFool

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I would think he could get a 2 year deal in the 18-22 range after next season. I don’t see the Celtics doing that when they have Theis. That’s a lot of money when they will also need to extend Grant.
 

pjheff

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That said, I think it's exceedingly likely that he moves this summer in a S&T or normal trade to get a shooting wing/big guard.
If Al gets traded, isn’t it likely that Stevens is looking for a guy a lot like Al . . . a quasi-big with defensive flexibility to play goalie to TL’s sweeper, only younger and able to hit threes like Al did previously?
 

Eddie Jurak

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I would think he could get a 2 year deal in the 18-22 range after next season. I don’t see the Celtics doing that when they have Theis. That’s a lot of money when they will also need to extend Grant.
I agree with the bolded, which is why I don't think an extension or longer term deal is in the cards unless it is part of a deliberate effort to lower his near-term cap hit. If he can get 2/$36M, would he take 4/$50M? Probably not because that is sub-MLE for the last 2 years. Would he take 4/$60M? Probably but if you are the Celtics you probably don't want the back end of that deal.
If Al gets traded, isn’t it likely that Stevens is looking for a guy a lot like Al . . . a quasi-big with defensive flexibility to play goalie to TL’s sweeper, only younger and able to hit threes like Al did previously?
Not necessarily. He could, but he could also decide that Rob/Theis play the 5, Grant starts at the 4, Tatum also gets some minutes at the 4.
 

benhogan

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I agree with the bolded, which is why I don't think an extension or longer term deal is in the cards unless it is part of a deliberate effort to lower his near-term cap hit. If he can get 2/$36M, would he take 4/$50M? Probably not because that is sub-MLE for the last 2 years. Would he take 4/$60M? Probably but if you are the Celtics you probably don't want the back end of that deal.
Not necessarily. He could, but he could also decide that Rob/Theis play the 5, Grant starts at the 4, Tatum also gets some minutes at the 4.
Good point on Tatum's increasing size/wingspan
 

Van Everyman

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I agree with the bolded, which is why I don't think an extension or longer term deal is in the cards unless it is part of a deliberate effort to lower his near-term cap hit. If he can get 2/$36M, would he take 4/$50M? Probably not because that is sub-MLE for the last 2 years. Would he take 4/$60M? Probably but if you are the Celtics you probably don't want the back end of that deal.
Some of this probably comes down to how long he wants to play and where. I know we all thought that three years ago when he ended up opting out and leaving for the Sixers. But $95 million, three clubs later and a half season of being benched in OKC, he might feel differently.
 

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If Al gets traded, isn’t it likely that Stevens is looking for a guy a lot like Al . . . a quasi-big with defensive flexibility to play goalie to TL’s sweeper, only younger and able to hit threes like Al did previously?
Other than the last part, didn't you just describe Theis? My sense is that DT is still some time away from truly learning Ime's system and truly earning Ime's trust. But, assuming TL and Al stay healthy this year, then that timeline works out just fine for next season if they decide to trade Al.
 

pjheff

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Not necessarily. He could, but he could also decide that Rob/Theis play the 5, Grant starts at the 4, Tatum also gets some minutes at the 4.
Without an acquisition, I would think it’s far more likely that Theis would pick up Al’s minutes.

Other than the last part, didn't you just describe Theis? My sense is that DT is still some time away from truly learning Ime's system and truly earning Ime's trust. But, assuming TL and Al stay healthy this year, then that timeline works out just fine for next season if they decide to trade Al.
I’d prefer to see Theis as Al insurance rather than Al’s replacement. Unless Al’s contract facilitates an upgrade, and acknowledging that Theis is 1/3 the cost, I’m not sure that there is one positive thing on a basketball court that the latter does better than the former. And while the two bigz lineup is often met with derision on this board, I’m betting that Ime sees it as a key ingredient in unlocking TL specifically and improving our defense generally.
 

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Without an acquisition, I would think it’s far more likely that Theis would pick up Al’s minutes.



I’d prefer to see Theis as Al insurance rather than Al’s replacement. Unless Al’s contract facilitates an upgrade, and acknowledging that Theis is 1/3 the cost, I’m not sure that there is one positive thing on a basketball court that the latter does better than the former. And while the two bigz lineup is often met with derision on this board, I’m betting that Ime sees it as a key ingredient in unlocking TL specifically and improving our defense generally.
I completely agree about how Al and TL together has been a key piece in getting the most out of the Celtic defense (in some thread, I likened it to a complementary SS/FS combo). My thought was that if they can turn Al into another scorer/wing, then maybe they figure that by next year Theis can offer some decent facsimile of Al's role as the power big to TL's free safety role. Then they find some vet minimum guy to take over Theis' role as the backup/swing big.
 

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Amazing how much more useful Al is than Kemba at this point.

If Brad wants, I have a feeling some sort of 2/35-40 deal would satisfy both parties after this year.

Al has seen the other side of the spectrum with Phi (bad fit) and OKC (bad team). Being part of a winning team in his final seasons probably means a lot to him.
 
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The Mort Report

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I remember the NBA created a rule when we traded Gary Payton with the understanding that he was going to be released and sign back, they made it something like 30 days until a player could resign with the team that traded him. Does that rule still apply in the offseason?
 

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Horford has been the Draymond of this team. I think the Celtics keep him next year and figure out 2023- when they get there.
 

DGreenwood

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Horford has been the Draymond of this team. I think the Celtics keep him next year and figure out 2023- when they get there.
I agree, unless they are able to use his salary slot to add a third star, through a S&T this summer or at the deadline next year. He adds a lot but the salary slot is even more valuable, if they can find the deal for the star.

edit: I'm not sure my point was stated very well. I like Al a lot but an expiring $26.5m contract is a lot more valuable in the quest for a third star than the lower value multi-year extension would be. If the trade doesn't materialize, take your shot at re-signing him in the summer of 2023 if he's still adding value.
 
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benhogan

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Both Raptor and LEBRON have Al as the C's best defender this year, top 5 in the league. I find it hard to disagree.
Al has been great on D, but see him as the 4th most important defender of the starting 5 (and maybe 5th on this team).
So I'm comfortable disagreeing w/ Raptor and LEBRON
 

lovegtm

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Al has been great on D, but see him as the 4th most important defender of the starting 5 (and maybe 5th on this team).
So I'm comfortable disagreeing w/ Raptor and LEBRON
The Celtics top defenders are all pretty close in ability, so it's splitting hairs to some degree. Also probably hard for one-number metrics to really disentangle the defense's constituent parts.
 

benhogan

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The Celtics top defenders are all pretty close in ability, so it's splitting hairs to some degree. Also probably hard for one-number metrics to really disentangle the defense's constituent parts.
For defense, put simply, LEBRON evaluates a player's contributions using
A. the box score (weighted using boxPIPM's weightings stabilized using Offensive Archetypes) +
B. advanced on/off calculations (using Luck-Adjusted RAPM methodology)
for a holistic evaluation of player impact per 100 possessions on-court.

1. Box Score is biased towards Centers that are mostly around the rim
2. Al mostly plays with the Celtic's other best defenders
3. Gets nights off to rest
4. Plays the least amount of MPG amongst the starters and has been sloping downward as the season progressed
5. SSS - AL missed some early high scoring games like NYK (opening night OT), CHX (OT), PDX blowout, missed 5 DEC games in a row against some tough teams & some recent high scoring games MIL, TOR, INDY (couldn't miss from the outside), MIN blowout

This isn't an indictment of IME's use or AL, but does add some context to what would specifically warp on/off + box scores in regards to Horford vs. teammates.

*edited for a little more info
 
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bsj

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This thread deserved a bump. Horford made a number of huge defensive plays down the stretch there that are understandably being overlooked by the Tatum plau

1- Did an amazing job guarding Durant
2- Did a great job picking up a driving Kyrie and on the same play
3- Managing to snab that CRITICAL last rebound even though he wasn't really in position when the shot went up

That Horford / Walker deal was so damn valuable. I hope they keep him around next year. 100% has proven to me he has gas left in the tank.
 

k-factory

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Not too shabby an offensive performance either. Nailed a couple of early threes and that putback stepping over Smart after Marcus front-rimmed a layup with a minute left to tie the game was pretty clutch
 

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jmcc5400

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Watch Horford sprint into the break here after a turnover.
View: https://twitter.com/John_Karalis/status/1516100826430910474?s=20&t=UiDuh0iI6072bm1AGSN5NA

John Karalis: 1: Tatum's defense was really good all night. 2: The C's were going for steals a lot. They were digging at the ball like crazy. 3: Al Horford goes from 2 steps behind Andre Drummond to past half court before Drummond even moves. Drummond is terrible.

Not bad for a 35 year old 6'10" guy.
Shades of Tedy ripping the ball from Dominic Rhodes. Love the aggression from JT and ageless Al sprinting the floor alone
 

NomarsFool

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His defensive play this year was quite a surprise. Really wasn’t expecting that. I liked him telling Theis not to help on that one play.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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That Horford / Walker deal was so damn valuable. I hope they keep him around next year. 100% has proven to me he has gas left in the tank.
Going from one of the worst (statistically) defensive players to someone who came in 9th (out of 11th) in DPOY voting seems to have made a difference. Who would have thunk!

Wish I knew which writer voted Al in 2nd place and who was the 1st place name on that vote.
 

lovegtm

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Al's fresh legs in the playoffs have been a revelation, and with Rob back, he's a good bet to stay fresh. He looks like exactly the guy the Sixers were willing to pay $28M/yr for.

Who would have to come available next year, in trade or S&T, for you to be fine moving him?
 

Cellar-Door

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Al's fresh legs in the playoffs have been a revelation, and with Rob back, he's a good bet to stay fresh. He looks like exactly the guy the Sixers were willing to pay $28M/yr for.

Who would have to come available next year, in trade or S&T, for you to be fine moving him?
S& T is basically impossible with the hard cap. In terms of guys you could maybe get in a trade:
John Collins?
Valanciunas?
Maybe Wood?

I'm only looking at bigs, if the Celtics change systems and start only TL that opens up more players.
 

lovegtm

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S& T is basically impossible with the hard cap. In terms of guys you could maybe get in a trade:
John Collins?
Valanciunas?
Maybe Wood?

I'm only looking at bigs, if the Celtics change systems and start only TL that opens up more players.
I'm assuming they're willing to change the system, based on Ime's willingness to go smaller to close games.

Wood and Valanciunas make the team worse imo. Collins is quite interesting, since you don't need him as a rim protector with TL there. Obv hard for Atlanta to do that one, but Brad seems to be aggressive dealing picks.

Grant+Al+picks for Collins might get traction tbh, although the Celtics might wonder whether Grant works better in their system, given how good he's getting defensively. And he'll be 50-60% of the cost.
 

Cellar-Door

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I'm assuming they're willing to change the system, based on Ime's willingness to go smaller to close games.

Wood and Valanciunas make the team worse imo. Collins is quite interesting, since you don't need him as a rim protector with TL there. Obv hard for Atlanta to do that one, but Brad seems to be aggressive dealing picks.

Grant+Al+picks for Collins might get traction tbh, although the Celtics might wonder whether Grant works better in their system, given how good he's getting defensively. And he'll be 50-60% of the cost.
I think the case for Collins is that he gets moved (along with Capela) in a re-shuffle that nets them Gobert and a perimeter player if Utah blows it up. Utah gets an expiring Al flotsom and picks, BOS gets Collins, ATL gets Gobert and Clarkson? Someone gets paid to eat Capela (OKC?)
 

lovegtm

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I think the case for Collins is that he gets moved (along with Capela) in a re-shuffle that nets them Gobert and a perimeter player if Utah blows it up. Utah gets an expiring Al flotsom and picks, BOS gets Collins, ATL gets Gobert and Clarkson? Someone gets paid to eat Capela (OKC?)
That's a pretty intriguing deal that is fairly realistic, depending on the draft comp BOS gives up. Al would also keep Utah competitive, which I have to imagine would be a goal of a reshuffle that doesn't move Donovan.
 

JakeRae

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Al's fresh legs in the playoffs have been a revelation, and with Rob back, he's a good bet to stay fresh. He looks like exactly the guy the Sixers were willing to pay $28M/yr for.

Who would have to come available next year, in trade or S&T, for you to be fine moving him?
I think the big question is what Al has planned after next year. If he’s interested in transitioning into a discounted role in Boston to wind down his career the way guys like Duncan and Ginobli did in San Antonio, I think it gets really hard to trade him. If he’s going to go out and hunt for another pay day in a year, you have to think seriously about offers that might involve a short term step back (like Collins) to lock up a longer term commitment. I doubt even if we field offers that there will be one worth biting on, so I’m guessing either way he ends up back next year. I also think an extension is very unlikely as it’s probably better for everyone for him to get $28 million next year and $5-10 million/year after that than to stretch out his deal at like $15-20 million/year (assuming the non-guaranteed dollars make that possible which I’m not sure about—the alternative is that an extension is impossible because the permitted step downs will still be too expensive to make sense).
 

Eddie Jurak

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I think you bring Al back at full freight next year. If no extension is agreed to and the team disappoints, then you start thinking about him as a big expiring deal. But not until then.

Edit: Al is in phenomenal condition, BTW. How much of that is a Bradyesque fountain of youth versus his light year with OKC is an interesting question. But the man simply did not play those first 2 games like a 35 year old.
 

Jed Zeppelin

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Al was so freaking good in this series. A bunch of big threes and the defense was just incredible jumping all over the place to make life difficult for KD.
 

Eddie Jurak

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Al's minutes were down (26) because of foul trouble and this was another game where his production was down compared to his game 1 masterpiece. But he was right there when needed at the end.
 

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Aside from that one time he let Dragic go by him for the reverse (his body was turned sideways when it probably should’ve been square) Al’s defense was great last night. Which was particularly important once Tatum fouled out.
 

Imbricus

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I'm solidly in the "Keep Horford Around for a Few Years" camp. I think he'll age well, if Ime manages his minutes smartly.

One small quibble here:

Anyway, he's clearly in the category of roster players that Boston would trade in the right deal. (In other words, his first name does not start with J and he was not drafted 3rd overall.)
Al was drafted 3rd overall, in 2007. So the Celts have 3 players in their starting lineup who were drafted 3rd.

Edit: Ah, I suppose this might mean A and B must both be true, in which case, yes, that's correct. His name isn't "Jal Horford." ;)
 

Eddie Jurak

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I'm solidly in the "Keep Horford Around for a Few Years" camp. I think he'll age well, if Ime manages his minutes smartly.

One small quibble here:



Al was drafted 3rd overall, in 2007. So the Celts have 3 players in their starting lineup who were drafted 3rd.

Edit: Ah, I suppose this might mean A and B must both be true, in which case, yes, that's correct. His name isn't "Jal Horford." ;)
What I meant was 'not drafted 3rd overall in 2017'.
 

benhogan

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I'm solidly in the "Keep Horford Around for a Few Years" camp. I think he'll age well, if Ime manages his minutes smartly.
Al has been great and really hasn't lost a step, his game has aged very well. His veteran presence is also felt

Horford is guaranteed substantially more next season with a Championship appearance/win. It probably depends on Wyc's willingness to pay the tax. BUT you'd have to be nuts, as a fan, not to want him back (tax be damned!)