Celtics

What Al Horford's departure would mean for the Celtics

What Al Horford's departure would mean for the Celtics

The staggering implosion of the Celtics continued Tuesday night with news that hours after formally opting out of the final year of his deal, Al Horford was preparing to explore outside offers in unrestricted free agency. 

What’s most jarring is how quickly the tenor of the Horford situation changed. The opt-out was expected but all indications were that Horford desired to remain in Boston and was on board with a potential youth movement. But by Tuesday evening, reports started emerging that Horford might be seeking a deal that was longer or more lucrative than what Boston was willing to offer.

A handful of knee-jerk reactions: 

* While nothing about the fallout from a disastrous 2018-19 season should surprise us at this point, the idea that the Celtics could see both Kyrie Irving and Horford walk away this summer is still staggering. And, even if the Celtics have simply resigned themselves to a youth movement, it’s still a shocking changeup for a team that entered the offseason seemingly ready to swing for the fences with a roster potentially headlined by Irving and Anthony Davis.

* In the aftermath of Los Angeles winning the Davis sweepstakes and with all signs pointing to Irving’s departure, it seems fair to wonder if the Celtics were simply leery of giving 33-year-old Horford the years and money he desired as the team braced for a youth movement. If the plan is to build around Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, it’s harder to commit to paying Horford until age 37. 

* That said, the Celtics’ chances of being competitive are radically different without Horford. With the veteran big man and his ability to check top Eastern Conference big men Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Celtics had a puncher’s chance in Golden State’s redshirt year. Now? It almost feels like Boston’s best path is to let the kids run free and hope a year in the driver’s seat accelerates their development.

* The question now is how do the Celtics move on from Horford? They could try to facilitate a sign-and-trade in hopes of recouping assets (a team like Houston would certainly be intrigued by adding Horford in their relentless quest to get over the hump out west). Or if Horford desired to sign with a team with cap space, the Celtics could simply renounce their rights and start freeing cap space that they might not use until further down the road.

* If the Celtics renounce the rights to all their free agents, they can get to roughly $27.8 million in cap space this summer — but that also assumes they use all three of their draft picks and retain Semi Ojeleye. The team likely isn’t in any rush to use cap space and might instead be tempted to ink one-year deals that would allow the team to seek top-tier talent in free agency starting in the summer of 2020.

Still, it’s a shocking twist to a drama-filled year for the Celtics. Two years ago it was fair to wonder if the Celtics were set up for a decade of contention. Now the future is far murkier. And, optically, they’ve got to repair their image as star players flee for greener pastures.

For more on Irving, Horford, the draft and the future of the Celtics, listen to the latest Celtics Talk Podcast with Celtics Insiders A. Sherrod Blakely and Chris Forsberg and guest Jeff Goodman of Stadium:

LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Celtics fans will love Kemba Walker's willingness to learn from teammates

Celtics fans will love Kemba Walker's willingness to learn from teammates

Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum all have played five seasons or less in the NBA, but they've still got as much playoff experience as many veterans around the league.

The Celtics have reached the playoffs in five consecutive seasons, and that streak started in Smart's rookie campaign. Boston has made at least the Eastern Conference semifinals in three straight years, including a pair of conference final appearances in 2017 and 2018.

Kemba Walker joined the Celtics as a free agent earlier this month, and one of the reasons he was drawn to the franchise was its winning culture. The star point guard enjoyed a lot of personal success in eight seasons with  the Charlotte Hornets, including three All-Star appearances and an all-NBA third team nod, but he played in only two playoff series (11 games total) over that span.

One of Walker's most impressive traits is his willingness to learn about the game, and he's not shy about asking for help. Celtics reporter Marc D'Amico provided further evidence of this trait with the following story about Walker's mission to prepare for the playoffs.

Winning clearly was a priority for Walker in free agency, and he ultimately picked the right place. No franchise has a better tradition of postseason success than the Celtics, and winning in Boston would allow Walker to establish himself as an upper-echelon NBA star.

Ainge: Celtics 'trying' to get a contract done with Tacko Fall>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

NBA rumors: Celtics to sign Javonte Green to partially guaranteed contract

NBA rumors: Celtics to sign Javonte Green to partially guaranteed contract

The Boston Celtics are not yet finished filling out their roster.

ESPN's Tim Bontemps reported Thursday that the Celtics are going to sign Javonte Green to a partially guaranteed contract.

Green is listed at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds. The 26-year-old forward played four seasons for Big South conference team Radford from 2011-12 through 2014-15 and averaged 14.4 points over his career. He has spent time playing professionally in Europe after college, and as noted in the tweet above, he impressed during Boston's NBA Summer League tournament run in Las Vegas earlier this month.

One thing we learned about Green in Las Vegas is that he has some serious athleticism.

Celtics fans are hoping 7-foot-6 center Tacko Fall is the next Summer League standout to sign a contract with the team. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Toucher and Rich" show Thursday morning that the team is "trying to still get a contract done" with Fall.

Danny Ainge reacts to Al Horford leaving Celtics to join 76ers>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.