Going into the offseason, the Celtics knew that losing Kyrie Irving was a very real possibility, despite his very public proclamation last summer that he wanted to stay in Boston long-term. It was a contingency that they weren’t entirely unprepared for, as evidenced by how swiftly they reached an agreement with Kemba Walker once free agency began.
Neither were they too surprised by Al Horford‘s decision to jump ship and sign a long-term deal with the Philadelphia 76ers, though the way it panned out reportedly wasn’t to their liking. Horford had been the team’s defensive anchor and, at various points, it’s most consistent player throughout a season that was marred by chemistry issues, and his veteran presence was a stabilizing force.
The Celtics would’ve clearly preferred to hang on to him, but they didn’t get much of an opportunity to make their pitch, as Horford’s four-year, $109 million contract with the Sixers went public just moments after the free agency moratorium period opened on June 30.