Here’s an Al Horford rumor for you: He’ll stick with the Hawks

The famous Chris Paul is outnumbered by Hawks. (Chris Carlson/AP photo)

Oh, look. It’s Chris Paul. (Chris Carlson/AP photo)

If you’ve been tracking Al Horford rumors (and I have, kind of), you’ve seen his name linked with the Celtics, the Heat, the Rockets, maybe the Spurs, possibly the Thunder. Any of those would make sense, all of those being good teams and him being a good player. But this is the silly season concerning NBA free-agents-to-be — they can’t officially negotiate with any team until July 1 — and the silliest part of the Horford rumors is this:

He’s probably not going anywhere.

That’s assuming he doesn’t really, really, really want to leave the Atlanta Hawks, and everything he has said has been an affirmation of his desire to stay. That’s also assuming he’d rather take more money than less: The Hawks can offer him a five-year contract at maximum money; no other team can offer more than four years. That’s assuming the Hawks don’t do something to tick him off, which isn’t to suggest that Horford is prickly — he’s not — but his negotiations could require a bit of finesse.

The Hawks would surely prefer not to offer max money for max years unless there’s no alternative. (And there might not be, what with so many other clubs eager to lure him away.) Paul Millsap can opt out of his contract after next season, and that would leave them with another All-Star who’ll be looking for big money — the salary cap is set to go wayyyy up next summer — but who’s on the high side of 30. (Horford turns 30 on Friday. Happy birthday!)

If Horford really, really, really wants to chase a title, those organizations mentioned above would appear better bets. Miami has Pat Riley. Boston has Danny Ainge. Houston has Daryl Morey, although his reputation took a hit this year. San Antonio has Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford. Oklahoma City has Sam Presti. But Horford seems to believe he can win something of consequence here. (Me, I’m not so sure.) But he wouldn’t seem to be at that last-dance stage yet. He could always do what LeBron James keeps doing and what Millsap is apt to do, which is taking less money for fewer years and then opting out to reassess.

As mentioned previously, getting Horford to re-up won’t necessarily bring the Hawks any closer to a championship or even the NBA finals. It might actually nudge them further away. If they use their money to keep him, would they have enough to buy an even more decorated free agent? And there aren’t many more decorated than him in this class. There’s Kevin Durant and … well, does DeMar DeRozan count? (Nobody expects presumptive opters-out LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki to up sticks.)

The bottom line is that Horford means too much to the Hawks for them to let him walk, and he likes it here enough that he’s not inclined to get an urge for going. I wouldn’t call it an absolute lock that he’s a Hawk next season. Strange things can happen in free agency. (Remember Josh Childress to Olympiakos?)  I would, however, suggest that it’s a very snug knot.

Super fun reading:

Why the Thunder in no way resemble the Hawks.

Here’s what I’d do with the Hawks’ roster, Horford included.

For the Hawks, the Horford question has no good answer.

Reader Comments 0


And whatever happened to Josh Childress? Horford: Good man. Good game. Not a championship building block, however.


I wonder what is the possibility that Al will sign a short contract so he could opt out sooner.  This may be the strategy that Durant considers.


Just pay the man...

Losing Big Al like trading Nique...

It'll set Hawks back 20 years...

Re-signing him doesn't "necessarily"...

Equate to a championship, true enough, but...

Nothing "necessarily" equates to a chip either...

Big Al is a nice piece to an evolving puzzle...

2x NCAA Champ, 4x Allstar, All-NBA...

When did 7x consecutive playoff run start?

Hawks best address complimentary pieces...

Al is hub to are interchangeable...

Hawks Easy Button 2.0

Shroder      Meeks       Whitehead #44

Hardaway  Korver       McCaw #21

Rudy Gay   Poythress #54  

Humphries Teletovic   Bargnani

Horford       Splitter      Tavares


@tyger you compared losing horford to losing nique.....that's should be ashamed of yourself. and he's not a hub, he's a role player, that's all.


@tyger  you must be drunk if you think Al is even on the same planet as Nique.  He isn't a max player and doesn't deserve max money.  Don't sign him to all that money when he doesn't even average 20 points a game.  Don't make the same mistake like the Falcons did with Ryan.  I like Ryan but he isn't a $100 QB and surely is elite and neither is Big Al. 


bring him back, because we love the Coach Bud system for getting swept by the Cavs in the playoffs.....bringing back al is fine, but we need somebody who can score night in and night out.  not like these part-time stars we got now.


Mark, I love Al as a fourth option on the offensive end. He is a career 14 and 9 player. Why even consider max money for that kind of production AND he turns 30 this year? He is way too in love now with the 3-ball so he's further from the basket on the offensive end and that automatically means fewer offensive rebounds. Come on? In my opinion, a big man who does not command a double team on the offensive end or does control the paint like Tristan Thompson, Hassan Whiteside, or Andre Drummond, and there are a few others, then he is not a max money guy especially at 30 years old. Blow this team up and start over like the Timberwolves and Celtics have. In two more years they will be two of the top teams in the league with their core players under 26 years old so they could be good for a long time.


Al's going to demand a lot more money to come back to atlanta--the man's tired of playing for this chump change he gets now---he can score huge dollars in miami, LA or New York---AtL needs to pay up with a max deal and a boatload of benefits!