Al Horford is on the trade block, and Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge has the assets to facilitate a trade for the Atlanta Hawks star.
Per Chris Mannix of the Vertical, Ainge is excited about the opportunity to swing a deal that lands Horford.
“I think Boston, Al Horford is a legitimate possibility for the Celtics. I think that is one of the guys across the league that Danny Ainge is the most excited about. He is a four man that would fit right into what Boston is trying to do. It would cost a lot of money to re-sign him in the offseason, but I think Boston is willing to play it, because they haven’t paid a lot of money for players in recent years.”
Horford has an expiring contract, so any team interested in him must prepare for a three-month rental. Whether he stays in Atlanta or is traded, the 29-year-old will likely test the free-agent market this offseason.
Considering that, potential suitors with limited expendable pieces probably will shy away from a blockbuster deal. Boston, on the other hand, might possess enough to protect its future while adding Horford — and potentially a big-name free agent during the summer.
Although David Lee has a $15.5 million contract, it runs out after the season. Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko are both signed through the 2016-17 campaign, but the Celtics hold team options and could shed their $12 and $5 million deals, respectively.
Chasing Horford may entail parting with a combination of Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger, Evan Turner and a draft pick, though Boston should guard its unprotected first-round pick from the Brooklyn Nets. That selection will probably be in the top three and will bring a terrific young prospect.
Additionally, the Celtics will attempt to keep Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder, who are on unbelievably team-friendly contracts for the next couple seasons.
Boston has the best chance to acquire Horford, but Ainge has a history of protecting the franchise’s future and patiently building the roster.