Market for Horford is real, Thunder reportedly clearing space for him

Hawks center Al Horford walks off the court for possibly the last time as an Atlanta player following Sunday's loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Horford is an unrestricted free agent. (Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com)

Hawks center Al Horford walks off the court for possibly the last time as an Atlanta player following the team’s season-ending playoff loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Horford is an unrestricted free agent. (Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com)

The problem with the days leading up to NBA free agency is separating fact from fiction — because there tends to be far more fiction, planted by agents, rival general managers or the always popular “well-placed source high up in the organization.”

But this much is clear when it comes to the Hawks: Al Horford is in demand. We can debate whether a player who didn’t come up big in the playoffs is worth a five-year contract or max money. But remember, contracts aren’t about a player’s perceived worth, it’s about what the market will bear. I believe they call that supply and demand.

So now comes this: Oklahoma City, in an effort to take the next step and please Kevin Durant, reportedly is going to go all out to sign Horford. This report comes from ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. An excerpt:

As they prepare to make their pitch to Kevin Durant, the Oklahoma City Thunder have been making calls around the league looking to clear a massive amount of salary-cap space in a move rival executives believe is an effort to go after free agent Al Horford in addition to Durant, multiple sources told ESPN.

Horford played for Thunder coach Billy Donovan at Florida, where they teamed up to win two national titles, and they remain close. The Thunder have an opening at power forward after trading Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic last week.

I still believe the Hawks will re-sign Horford. I believe they need to re-sign Horford, something I will get into a full column later on MyAJC.com . But the latest report, presumably accurate, is mere reaffirmation that the market for the four-time All-Star is real.

It has long been believed that at least a dozen teams, including Oklahoma City and Boston, would be willing to give the center-power forward max money, or at least close to it. The Thunder makes sense on many levels: The team recently traded power forward Serge Ibaka to Orlando; it believes it’s close to winning a championship; it’s trying to keep Kevin Durant from leaving; Horford played for OKC coach Billy Donovan at Florida; Horford is really good, a leader and would be a solid addition in the locker room.

There are times when local sports fans don’t appreciate what they have in a player until he leaves for another team. That’s not to say Horford doesn’t need to get better, particularly in crunch time and playoff games. But he’s going to get a major deal and possibly max money somewhere and I find it hard to believe the Hawks could make up for his loss with trades and signings if he leaves.

UPDATE: Here’s a link to the full column.

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Reader Comments 0

16 comments
DawgNole
DawgNole

So the Thunder are not satisfied with only coming close to the Finals--and thus are going "all out" to sign Horford in an effort to bring a championship to their city.

That is the difference--and it always has been (in all major sports)--between ATL and cities/teams that truly are serious about winning it all!

kevkat
kevkat

Dang if you do and Dang if you don't. Let him walk and you're  definitely a worse team. Keep him and without another signing of a star, you're still no better than you were, especially if Baze  leaves. I'm going through enough with one Atlanta franchise rebuilding...can't take another one doing it. 

DawgNole
DawgNole

@kevkat

Every ATL franchise has hidden behind the "rebuilding" excuse for most of the past half-century. You should be used to it by now.

Tbone770
Tbone770

Remember Joe Johnson!!!!!! At the time Joe was a 20 pts scorer and look how that pan out. 1st thing Danny Ferry did was to get rid of that contract and the Hawks Improved. Giving Al 145 million contract is not winning no ring, so let him walk and next year make a play for Durant and Westbrook. To me AL is not a whole much better than Kris Hump. At least Kris will rebound and defend and save the team 100 million dollars. Give Al 145 million for a guy that had 11 rebounds in 4 game series and avg less than 15 pts. No Please Pass

CardiganBoy
CardiganBoy

Horford is a nice complimentary player.  I like him a lot.  But he ain't gonna make the Hawks successful - not with the talent they've assembled so far.  


I think he's just what OKC (with Durant) needs.  And he'd be reunited with his college coach.


I expect the only way he stays here is if we offer too much money for him to refuse.  



khd713
khd713

Signing a player like Horford to a max contract, at this stage in his career, is exactly the kind of move that gets GMs fired and ends up hamstringing a team for years. We all love Horford, always have, and are exceptionally grateful for all he has done for the Atlanta Hawks and for representing us so well over the years. But this is a business, and smart business people don't make decisions with their heart. The only way we can keep Big Al is to give him the five-year deal that other teams cannot. That would not be a smart move. If the Hawks act rationally, I think it seems pretty likely that Horford ends up somewhere else. Yes, the Hawks will be worse without him – in the short run. But they will have freed up the resources to make themselves better – better than they would have been had they kept him – over the next few years. That's why I don't understand how someone like Mark Bradley can grasp pretty clearly what the Braves franchise is doing and support it (as do I), but at the same time seems to think keeping Horford would be the best move for the Hawks franchise. The situations are different, but similar enough to think Bradley would at least be consistent in his views. Right?

RonMexico
RonMexico

@khd713 If only this column had been written by Mark Bradley and not Jeff Schultz. 

OH:IO
OH:IO

Has he won a championship?

slydawg
slydawg

Here is the problem: The reports should read about how the Hawks are going all out to sign Durant and then resign Harford. Without Durant, or for that matter Dwight Howard(regardless of you feel about him), resigning Horford is a waste of money.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@slydawg

BINGO!

But the reports don't read like that, which is exactly why ATL continues to ferociously defend its shameful title as "Losersville." All contenders have fallen by the wayside these past 5 decades--even hapless Cleveland, now that the Cavs have done what it takes to claim a championship.

NajehDavenpoop
NajehDavenpoop

It's not that we don't appreciate what we have in Horford. It's that we realize that he can't be the best player on a championship contending team, and the constraints of the salary cap don't allow you to add players better than him once you have maxed him out. OKC doesn't have that problem because assuming they keep Durant, Horford would be their 3rd best player. If they add him, they become better than the contending team they already had. If the Hawks keep him at a max salary, they remain in the NBA's second class and likely get swept next May by Cleveland again.

jcarson
jcarson

I'm a big Hawks fan but I can't imagine choosing us over OKC, even for more money.  I think he's gone.