Have the Boston Celtics rejuvenated Al Horford?
At 36, the veteran forward is the oldest player on Boston's roster and is two years older than his interim head coach, Joe Mazzulla. His contract expires at the end of the 2022-23 season, so it's fair to wonder whether he'd decide to hang them up after 16 seasons in the league.
But "retirement" isn't in Horford's vocabulary, it appears.
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"Yeah, for sure, I’ve thought about it," Horford told Heavy.com's Steve Bulpett regarding his NBA future. "I want to keep playing for two, three more years, for sure."
Horford has proven he can still play at a high level. After playing just 28 games for the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2020-21, Horford averaged 10.2 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists last season as Boston's starting power forward and played a key role in the team's run to the NBA Finals. While he's sitting out the second nights of back-to-backs this season, he's off to another strong start, averaging 11.3 points per game while hitting 45.1 percent of his 3-pointers.
Horford probably could earn decent money on the 2023 free agent market if he keeps up that pace -- he's making $26.5 million on the final year of his deal -- but the team's elder statesman seems motivated to re-sign with the Celtics.
"I think obviously there’s so much stuff that’s going on here, that’s going on with the coach and stuff and just other guys and things like that where I’m just being patient," Horford told Bulpett about potential contract discussions with the C's. "I’m sure that when the time comes we’ll get to something. But, yeah, I want to keep playing."
When Bulpett asked if he wanted to keep playing in Boston, Horford "emphatically" responded "yes."
The Celtics are a great fit for Horford in many ways. He doesn't have to carry the offensive load but still can make a significant impact as a floor-spacing big man, and he's an excellent defender who can go toe-to-toe with Eastern Conference giants like Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
While there's some concern of wear-and-tear with Horford -- he turns 37 next June and is coming off his highest number of games played in a season since 2017-18 -- he's an essential member of their core. The Celtics should jump at the opportunity to re-sign him this offseason if he's intent on running it back.