Of all the players who switched teams this summer, Al Horford could quietly end up making one of the biggest impacts for his new team in Philadelphia. As soon as the moratorium period opened on June 30, news broke that the former All-Star center had agreed to sign with the Sixers on a four-year, $109 million contract.
The timing seemed to indicate that Horford already knew the score. He wasn’t going to wait around to see what Kyrie Irving would do — although Irving was rumored to be gone for some time. He was gone, regardless. With the rumors of locker-room turmoil between Irving and some of the younger guys on the roster, it’s no surprise that Horford felt his time in Boston had run its course.
He admitted as much in a recent interview when he talked about how and why his tenure with the Celtics came to an end this offseason, and the different dynamics around the team that ultimately led to the dissolution of those relationships as various parties went their separate ways. Horford was particularly forthcoming about the issues surrounding Irving.
“I’m not sure that has anything to do with it for me,” Horford said. “I just think that if Kyrie would have stayed, I don’t know if it would have worked. There would have had to be some major changes as far as players, because it was just clear that the group that we had just wasn’t going to be able to coexist.”
With Irving in Brooklyn, the Celtics can now focus on developing their younger stars, some of whom felt stunted in their growth by Irving’s presence. For Horford, he now has an opportunity to challenge for the East’s crown by adding a whole new dimension to a loaded young Sixers team.
The 33-year-old Horford will bring a much-needed veteran presence in Philly, and he’ll have the opportunity to settle into a more complementary role as he enters the twilight of his career. His move to the Sixers was definitely one of the more underrated developments of the offseason, and now the only question is whether he can help get them over the hump.