With Al Horford likely on his way out of Boston along with Kyrie Irving, the Celtics are put in a tough spot in the near term.
Horford, unlike Irving, was mostly expected to remain a Celtic for at least another season. Instead, the veteran big man opted out of his contract and is expected to sign elsewhere when free agency begins June 30.
The C's reportedly offered Horford a sizable four-year contract, but rumor has it there's even larger four-year deal on the table from the Mavericks. Former Celtics great Paul Pierce, who was in Boston to promote his new line of CBD products on Saturday, has no issue with Horford potentially leaving the C's to chase the money.
“A lot of these guys when they get in their late 20’s or early 30’s and they know there’s light at the end of the tunnel, they try to maximize their dollars,” Pierce told John Karalis of MassLive. “So if there’s an opportunity for Al Horford to get more money, I’m sure that’s something you have to look into.”
Pierce notes that the Celtics failing to win a title during Horford's tenure likely factored into the 33-year-old's decision to pursue other opportunities.
“It might have been different if they won a championship with him here, but they didn’t win a championship and now he’s at the point where this is his last big contract,” Pierce said. “You gotta understand the player is always going to do what’s best for them and their family.”
Horford's potential departure hasn't received nearly as much criticism as Irving's. Much of that has to do with the polarizing point guard changing his tune from committing to the Celtics before the 2018-19 season to reportedly "ghosting" the team with free agency looming.
There's also the recent report from ESPN's Jackie MacMullan, who stated Irving didn't like living in Boston. But Pierce isn't buying that as the reason for players like Irving, Horford, and now-Lakers superstar Anthony Davis opting to play elsewhere.
“I don’t think a lot of this stuff has to do with the city,” Pierce told MassLive. “I think it has a lot to do with what direction you’re going to, the point of your career you’re at as a player. So I don’t really buy into those things because every player that I know that’s played for the Boston Celtics, 99 percent of them say ‘I didn’t know Boston was like this, this is one of the best franchises’ and they really liked playing for the city of Boston.”
Though it may feel like the sky is falling in Boston, Danny Ainge remains confident following the NBA Draft that the Celtics won't be in as bad of a spot going forward as most think. Perhaps the C's general manager has another trick up his sleeve for when free agency comes around next week.
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