Celtics sign Al Horford to four-year, $113 million deal

Celtics sign Al Horford to four-year, $113 million deal

BOSTON – Bringing home Banner 18 remains a goal for the Boston Celtics and the franchise took a significant step in that direction on Saturday when they came to terms with Al Horford.

The 30-year-old free agent has come to terms on a four-year, $113 million contract with the Celtics after spurning a late push by the Atlanta Hawks, the only team he played for in his first nine seasons in the NBA. The deal also includes a player option after the third season.

The Hawks, having already reached a three-year, $70.5 million agreement with Dwight Howard followed by a four-year, $70 million deal with Kent Bazemore, was looking to trade all-star forward Paul Millsap in order to create enough salary cap space to re-sign Horford to what would have been a five-year, $153 million deal.

And so here is Ainge and the Celtics having landed the biggest free agent signing in Ainge’s decade-plus reign in leading the franchise’s basketball operations staff.

While it’s not parade down Causeway Street-worthy, there is a tremendous amount of significance in what the Celtics have done by adding the four-time all-star to their roster.

It gives Boston the kind of credibility that, particularly this time of year, they lacked. Boston has never been a hotbed destination for free agents, and the signing of Horford may not necessarily change that significantly.

But make no mistake about it: the game’s top players and their representatives are not going to be as apprehensive as we’ve seen in the past when it comes to potentially playing for the Celtics.

The addition of Horford also adds talent and veteran experience to a frontline that has been among the younger groups in the NBA.

Adding Horford may be the first of many changes to the Celtics’ frontcourt.

The Celtics made a qualifying offer to Jared Sullinger which makes him a restricted free agent.  By landing Horford, it’s not a stretch to think that Sullinger can go and sign an offer sheet and Boston decides not to match it.

A similar scenario could play out with Tyler Zeller who has drawn some interest from teams who view him as a low-cost big man who could provide quality depth.

But no disrespect to Sullinger or Zeller, but there will be very little talk or thought given to their current plight with the Celtics.

Instead, all the attention will be shifted towards Horford and whether adding him will be enough to convince Kevin Durant to sign on with the Green team as well.

Regardless of how that works out, the Celtics are a better team now than they were when free agency began.

And to think, there’s still time for even more fireworks for the Celtics!

A. Sherrod Blakely can be followed on Twitter: @SherrodbCSN

Isaiah Thomas isn't ruling out return to Celtics

File Photo

Isaiah Thomas isn't ruling out return to Celtics

Isaiah Thomas back in green? Maybe there's a chance after all.

The former Celtics guard, now with the Lakers, started a Q&A session on Twitter and was asked whether he'd consider returning to Boston this offseason. This was his answer...

That's not a no.

Thomas has had a rough go of it since leaving the Celtics. His brief tenure in Cleveland didn't go according to plan, and things haven't gotten a whole lot better out in L.A. The 29-year-old is averaging 15.3 points per game just a year after averaging 28.9 with Boston.

Let the speculation begin.


Horford not making any excuses after C's rough outing vs Pelicans

Horford not making any excuses after C's rough outing vs Pelicans

Al Horford understands that there’s plenty of blame pie to go around following Boston’s 108-89 loss to New Orleans. 

Considering how Pelicans stud Anthony Davis dominated the game on so many levels Sunday night, Horford was quick to acknowledge his role in the loss. 

“[Davis] was able to get behind our defense a lot,” Horford told reporters after the loss. “Some mistakes on my end; gotta give him credit. He dominated tonight. I’ll definitely take the blame for that.”

Davis finished with a double-double of 34 points and 11 rebounds, a total that would have been higher if not for the game being so lopsided which allowed Davis to head to the bench early in the fourth. 

MORE - Blakely's stars, studs, and duds from C's-Pelicans

And Horford’s struggles defensively were just as problematic on offense as the five-time All-Star tallied just six points on 3-for-11 shooting to go with four rebounds and three assists. 

Boston has been a team whose collective sums have fueled their success. 

But Horford understands he has to be a high impact performer, a job that’s even more vital when key starters like Kyrie Irving (left knee soreness) and Jaylen Brown (concussion) are out as well as top reserves Marcus Smart (right thumb) and Daniel Theis (torn meniscus). 

And by Horford’s own admission, he just didn’t bring it on Sunday at a level to give him and the Celtics a legit shot at winning the game.

“Defensively we had too many breakdowns,” Horford said. “And the game got away from us in the second half. So there’s no excuses. I didn’t give us a chance, either; missing a lot of looks offensively. I just need to be better.”

And he’ll have to be if Boston (47-23) is to get back on track with a win on Tuesday against a talented Oklahoma City squad led by Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. 

At full strength, the Thunder would be a significant challenge for the Celtics. 

But having a roster with a number of key players out with injuries, it becomes even more imperative for Boston’s top players to elevate their play. 

And as you scan this Celtics roster and examine those who are healthy enough to play, it’s clear that Horford more than any other Boston player, has to find a way to become more impactful.

Certainly, more points and rebounds would help. 

But as we’ve seen time and time again with Horford, often his greatest contributions to winning games don’t necessarily show up in the final box score. 

That being said, a six-point, four-rebound game doesn’t cut it. 

Horford has to be better, something he knows better than anyone. 

“I’ll definitely look at the film and see how I can be better individually,” Horford said. “The good thing about the NBA, is we have a chance to play on Tuesday. Hopefully we’ll learn from this game and be ready to go Tuesday at home.”