Boston Celtics

Celtics' Al Horford will reportedly hit free agency after opting out of player option

Celtics' Al Horford will reportedly hit free agency after opting out of player option

The Celtics’ offseason isn’t off to a terrific start.

Unsurprisingly, it appears All-Star guard Kyrie Irving will leave in free agency. GM Danny Ainge also reportedly took a swing for All-Star big man Anthony Davis, but was outbid by the Lakers.

But what transpired Tuesday may hurt them more than anything. Earlier in the day, it was reported that Al Horford would not opt in to his $30.1 million player option, but there was optimism the sides could strike a multi-year deal. Now it’s being reported that “the gulf is too great” between Boston and Horford’s camp and the veteran big will hit the market looking for a three- or four-year deal.

Uh oh.

Horford’s stats won’t blow you away — 13.5 points, seven rebounds per game as a Celtic — but he’s arguably their most indispensable player. While Irving’s departure almost seemed inevitable during Boston’s playoff run, Horford possibly jumping ship is pretty jarring. 

When the Sixers play Boston, Horford is tasked with guarding Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons. How many players in the league are capable of guarding both, let alone doing it at a high level? The answer is likely zero. 

Ainge was right to hold on to Jayson Tatum in negotiations for Davis, but it’s going to be tough to build a championship-caliber roster with the pieces the Celtics have and what cap room they have left. They could make a deal for a veteran point guard like Memphis’ Mike Conley. Ainge still has an excellent trade piece in the Grizzlies’ protected 2020 first-round pick. 

With all the uncertainty surrounding the Celtics, Raptors and Bucks, it would seem to make even more sense for Elton Brand to #RunItBack with Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris. The Eastern Conference — and perhaps even the entire NBA — may be wide open.

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Celtics reportedly engaging in trade talks for Pelicans' Anthony Davis

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Celtics reportedly engaging in trade talks for Pelicans' Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis doesn’t want to go to the Celtics.

Danny Ainge doesn’t seem to care.

The Sixers’ biggest rivals are engaging in trade talks with the New Orleans Pelicans for the six-time All-Star, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Kyrie Irving opted out of his player option in Boston this week and, according to Woj, the Celtics hope that adding Davis would give them their best shot at re-signing Irving. 

But Davis' camp said at this year's trade deadline that the big man wouldn't sign in Boston long term — something his agent doubled down on in a recent SI article — so there's clearly a ton of risk here for the Celtics. The Lakers are the clear favorite to land Davis when his contract expires in 2020, meaning this could be a one-year, all-in push. 

A similar approach worked for the Raptors and Kawhi Leonard, but if Boston can't keep Irving, there's no guarantee they would be able to keep up with the Raptors, Bucks or Sixers even with Davis in the fold.

And Irving's status with the Celtics … well, that’s a different story altogether.

Plus, Davis hasn’t had the most success against Joel Embiid, a player he'd see an awful lot of as a Celtic.  The Sixers have beaten the Pelicans three out of four times when both Embiid and Davis are in the lineup. While their numbers are close, it’s fair to note that Davis has shot just 36 percent in those contests and Embiid has averaged 10 fewer minutes a game thanks to two Sixers’ blowouts.

Is the core of Davis and Irving really the way Ainge wants to build his roster?

If it costs him Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown or even Embiid stopper Al Horford to make the money match plus draft picks, it really doesn’t seem worth it.

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How to watch 2019 NBA draft lottery, odds for Sixers Tuesday night

How to watch 2019 NBA draft lottery, odds for Sixers Tuesday night

So you’re telling me there’s a chance.

After finishing 39-43 this season, the Sacramento Kings have a one percent chance to win the NBA draft lottery Tuesday night. 

Why does that affect the Sixers? Because the top-10 protected pick that was acquired in the 2015 trade that brought them Nik Stauskas, Carl Landry, Jason Thompson, and the now-infamous pick swap, is no longer protected. Thanks, Sam Hinkie.

Of course that pick was traded to the Celtics to acquire the No. 1 pick, which the Sixers used on Markelle Fultz. It’s protected, but the only way the pick conveys to the Sixers is if it’s No. 1 overall. Thanks, Bryan Colangelo.

How to watch: 8:30 p.m. on ESPN

If a miracle does occur and the Kings get the first pick, Boston would then receive the Sixers’ first-round pick, 25th overall. The much more likely scenario is that Sacramento’s ping pong balls net it one of the last lottery spots. 

Using the super fun site tankathon.com, you can simulate the lottery. You have to go through a ton of simulations to get the Kings’ pick any higher than No. 14. All things considered, that pick not landing in the top 10 has to be a sigh of relief for Sixers fans. The Celtics could theoretically get two top-10 picks if both the Kings’ pick and the first-rounder they’re getting from Memphis — which is top-eight protected — convey.

Unlike in years past, it’s more about rooting against Boston to get those picks than holding on to the slim chance the Sixers could get the first pick. Though Duke's Zion Williamson would be a ton of fun to watch here.

If you’re feeling a sense of nostalgia for The Process days or looking to drown your sorrows from the Game 7 loss, you can attend the Rights to Ricky Sanchez’s final draft lottery party at XFINITY Live!

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