Celtics

Ex-Celtic Al Horford doesn't sound pleased with role in 76ers offense

Ex-Celtic Al Horford doesn't sound pleased with role in 76ers offense

Sometimes the grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence.

When Al Horford left the Boston Celtics to sign a four-year, $109 million contract with the Philadelphia 76ers in July, the thought was he'd get to play a significant role on a talented team with NBA championship aspirations.

While the Sixers are winning games, that "significant role" part isn't going as planned for Horford.

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Horford has struggled to coexist with All-Star big man Joel Embiid, and it's showing: He's on pace to have one of the worst offensive seasons of his career, averaging just 12.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists through 31 games while shooting 46 percent from the field and 34.4 percent from 3-point range.

In fact, Horford has gotten frustrated to the point where he's openly discussing his disappointment with how things have gone.

"I still haven’t been able to find my rhythm with the team," Horford said Monday, via Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

" ... I’m out [there] for the team and doing what I can to help us. But offensively, I’m very limited with the things that I can do. So I can’t control that stuff."

Those are relatively strong words from the normally diplomatic big man, who apparently feels he's getting squeezed a bit in Philly's offense.

Horford currently ranks fourth on the team in shot attempts (11.3 per game), behind Embiid, Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson. The 33-year-old's attempts are actually up from his previous two seasons with the Celtics, but Brad Stevens' offense was much more free-flowing, while the Sixers' attack runs primarily through Embiid and Ben Simmons.

"It’s always an adjustment period when you are with a new team," Horford added. "Things don’t necessarily click how you want them to. It’s just a different challenge."

You don't need to connect many dots to infer Horford thinks he could play a larger role in Philly's offense. After a string of underwhelming performances -- fewer than 10 points in five of his last seven contests -- it appears Horford's frustration has boiled over a bit.

The good news for Horford is that the Sixers are still in the playoff mix -- tied for fourth in the Eastern Conference at 23-12 -- but he'll need to find better footing in Philly if they want to be a serious title contender.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Hawks, which tips off Friday at 6:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike and Tommy have the call at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Another Larry Bird milestone to assert his place among the all-time greats

Another Larry Bird milestone to assert his place among the all-time greats

BOSTON -- The 1986 Boston Celtics are considered one of the greatest teams of all time, having run through the regular season with ease towards a dominant postseason that ended with the team hanging Banner 16.

But weeks before the franchise’s triumphant conclusion to the season, there was another historic milestone.

Larry Bird was named the league’s MVP 34 years ago this week for the third straight season, a feat that only two others - Bill Russell (1961-1963) and Wilt Chamberlain (1966-1968) - had ever done.

It’s significant because it serves as yet another reminder of how historically great Bird was; not only for the Boston Celtics but for the entire league.

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To carve out a spot in history with such an elusive group speaks to Bird’s greatness as a player who at the very least should be in the conversation as one of the greatest power forwards in NBA history. 

And what made that season even more special was that during the playoffs, the elite level at which Bird played during the regular season did not waiver or lessen up in the games that mattered the most. 

In the playoffs that year, he averaged 25.9 points (0.1 points less than his season average) while increasing his field goal shooting (51.7 percent in the playoffs, 49.6 in the regular season), assists (9.8, from 8.2) and steals (2.1, from 2.0).

And when the game was on the line, the only thing larger than Bird’s ability to come through in the clutch, was his confidence.

“There’s no doubt I’m in control of what I do out there,” Bird said in an interview in 1986. “I can score any number of points my team wants me to if they give me the ball in the right situations.”

And he did, over and over and over again before finally calling it quits on his Hall of Fame career in 1992. 

Throughout his time in Boston, Bird had a number of stretches of brilliance as a basketball player. 

But the three-year run in which he was the league’s best player, resulting in three consecutive league MVP awards, stands out in a career that was filled with standout moments.

NBA Rumors: Celtics 'most likely' will offer Jayson Tatum max contract after season

NBA Rumors: Celtics 'most likely' will offer Jayson Tatum max contract after season

Just before the 2019-20 NBA season was suspended due to the coronavirus, Jayson Tatum was turning into a superstar before our very eyes. Now, it appears the Boston Celtics are ready to pay him like one.

Saturday on SportsCenter, ESPN's Brian Windhorst said the C's "most likely" will offer the No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft a max contract this offseason.

"If Jayson Tatum is the superstar that they envisioned when they began this whole rebuilding process when they traded Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce for all of those draft picks hoping to land a player like this, we could see 'Glory Days' for the Celtics again," Windhorst said, as transcribed by Bleacher Report.

"But it's very much up in the air, and I'm gonna tell ya, they're gonna have to pay him like it because after this season ends, he is going to get most likely a max contract. They're going to bet that he becomes that player."

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The Celtics recently have signed both Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown to four-year contract extensions, so signing Tatum to a max deal and locking up their core for the foreseeable future seems like a no-brainer. One potential hurdle for Danny Ainge and the C's front office, however, is the effect the coronavirus pandemic could have on the league's 2020-21 salary cap.

Regardless, we can expect Boston to do whatever it takes to assure their budding superstar is here to stay. This season, the 22-year-old leads the team with 23.6 points per game while averaging 7.1 rebounds and shooting 39.8 percent from 3-point range. He was named an All-Star for the first time in his promising career.

Tatum currently is set to make $9.9 million next year on his rookie contract.