Al Horford joined the Philadelphia 76ers for a whole lot of money this past summer. The big man left the Boston Celtics and inked a lucrative four-year deal with the Sixers, with the thought being that he could play alongside Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons while simultaneously anchoring the squad’s frontcourt when Embiid misses games for rest or injury.
That hasn’t quite happened. The fit has been imperfect when those three are on the floor together, because while Philadelphia’s defense is stout when that happens, the team’s offense craters. The Sixers tested out a potential solution before the All-Star break, one that involved sliding Horford to the bench and starting sharpshooting wing Furkan Korkmaz, and apparently, the team will continue to experiment with this moving forward.
Horford met with the media at the team’s practice facility on Wednesday, one day prior to Philly’s first game after the break. While there, he mentioned that he’s been told the plan is for him to serve as the squad’s sixth man.
Horford tells reporters he has been told/believes he will continue to come off the bench moving forward
— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) February 19, 2020
Horford went on to say that this is what the team “needs” at the moment.
— Tom Moore (@TomMoorePhilly) February 19, 2020
Whether this ends up continuing all regular season and during the playoffs remains to be seen, but the Sixers do have a collection of players (Korkmaz, Matisse Thybulle, Alec Burks, James Ennis, etc.) who can slide into the lineup and give Simmons and Embiid a little more room to work. It stands to reason that he’ll still start when Embiid misses games, and when Philadelphia is trying to protect a lead, lineups with all three dudes have generally put the clamps on opponents.
He may make a whole lot of money, but the Sixers’ goal is to win a championship, and that sometimes requires making tough decisions, like bringing a guy whose deal is worth nine figures off the bench. All that matters is that it works, though, and based on these quotes, it sounds like Brett Brown will use this as a chance to figure out if doing this helps them get closer to a ring.