When Al Horford declined his $30.1 million player option with the Boston Celtics for the 2019-20 NBA season, there were expectations of a new long-term deal for him.
However, there was a significant change as Horford is expected to sign a four-year deal with another team now instead of just a three-year deal with the Celtics.
Although Horford is 33 years old, he remains one of the better players at center after averaging 13.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 4.2 assists in just 29.0 minutes.
As a result, the Los Angeles Lakers reportedly are among three teams interested in signing Horford in free agency, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer:
The Mavericks are considered favorites to land Celtics free-agent big man Al Horford, according to league sources, and the two Los Angeles teams are said to also have interest, though they both have their sights set on bigger fish like Kawhi Leonard.
However, for the Lakers, they still have some work to do in order to still have a max-contract slot after the Anthony Davis trade, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
The Los Angeles Lakers are scrambling to reshape the parameters of the Anthony Davis trade with New Orleans and create the capacity for $32 million-plus in salary-cap space when the free-agent moratorium ends on July 6, league sources told ESPN.
If the Lakers are able to create $32.5 million, Horford would be a good fit alongside Davis, LeBron James, and Kyle Kuzma. However, since the Lakers have three frontcourt players, they should utilize their cap space elsewhere.
As the Lakers are working on a max-contract slot, the $8.8 million difference is significant if they are unable to do so. Along with not giving themselves an opportunity to sign a third All-Star player like Kawhi Leonard, it would limit the number of role players they could sign if they split it.
With James and Davis, the Lakers are a championship contender. However, general manager Rob Pelinka and company surrounding them with the right pieces is just as important. The 2018-19 NBA season showed they needed shooters and rim protectors instead of playmakers.