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:

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Celtics Talk Podcast: Exclusive sit down with Enes Kanter

Celtics Talk Podcast: Exclusive sit down with Enes Kanter

New Celtics big man Enes Kanter sits down with Kyle Draper and Chris Forsberg. A. Sherrod Blakely joins Kyle and Chris to discuss Team USA's impact on the Celtics, Jaylen Brown's impressive FIBA performance and whether Kemba Walker will step up and be the leader the C's need.

1:03 - Enes Kanter interview

21:56 - Team USA's seventh-place finish

28:34 - Did the Celtics get all they could out of playing for Team USA?

32:30 - Are the Celtics more likely to give Jaylen Brown an extension after his FIBA performance?

37:15 - Will Kemba Walker be the alpha the Celtics need?

LISTEN & SUBSCRIBE HERE


 

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Watch Celtics' Tacko Fall help young fan dunk at WNBA playoff game

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USA TODAY Sports

Watch Celtics' Tacko Fall help young fan dunk at WNBA playoff game

A young fan was able to experience the excitement of dunking a basketball with a little assistance from Tacko Fall.

The Boston Celtics center, who stands at 7-foot-6, was in attendance for Tuesday night's WNBA game between the Connecticut Sun and Los Angeles Sparks. During a break in the action, he picked up a small child and helped it dunk on a regulation-sized hoop.

Check out the special moment in the video below:

Celtics rookie Tremont Waters and assistant coach Kara Lawson also joined Fall to watch the Sun.

Fall played four seasons at the University of Central Florida and went undrafted earlier this year. He signed with the Celtics to play on their Las Vegas NBA Summer League team and performed well enough to earn an invitation to training camp, where he'll compete for one of Boston's final roster spots.

Report: Celtics to sign former SEC Player of the Year>>>

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.