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Al Horford Plans to Leave Celtics, Enter Free Agency

The Celtics’ grand plan hasn’t exactly gone the way they thought it would. They didn’t get anywhere near their expected potential, missed out on Anthony Davis, and Kyrie Irving is likely to leave. Now, Adrian Wojnarowski reports Al Horford will not re-sign with the Celtics, as many predicted, and plans to sign a four-year deal elsewhere.

Horford opted out of his player option earlier today to become a free agent, but it was assumed he would re-negotiate a longer deal with the Celtics, guaranteeing financial stability into the twilight of his career. To hear this is not the case is exceptionally disappointing news for Boston. Horford isn’t only one of the best two-way centers in the league, he’s a crucial locker room presence for the young players on this squad. While he alone couldn’t solve the problems within last year’s locker room, his veteran mentorship moving forward would have been invaluable.

As important as he is, if another team is giving him a four-year max, Boston shouldn’t try to match. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but Horford’s play will start to decline sooner rather than later. Tying up that kind of money to a 33-year-old big man isn’t a smart move for a team whose timeline has drastically shifted in the course of six months.

It remains to be seen if Horford is truly gone, and if so, who he ends up with. His age doesn’t bode well in the long run, but in the short term he can help out just about any team in the league. Horford has expressed a previous desire to contend into his later years, so a championship competitor is a priority for Horford.