BOSTON (CBS) — Al Horford will not exercise his player option with the Boston Celtics for the 2019-20 season and become an unrestricted free agent, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday morning.
But that doesn’t mean the veteran big man will be leaving Boston this summer. Horford and the Celtics will discuss a new deal when free agency arrives at the end of the month, according to Woj and multiple reports.
Horford had a $30.1 million player option for the 2019-20 season, the final year of the four-year, $113 million deal he signed with Boston in 2016. Not picking up his option and signing a deal for less annual money but with a few additional years would give Boston some wiggle room under the salary cap this summer, as they’ll likely be looking to replace Kyrie Irving in the coming weeks. Horford could also head elsewhere this summer, opting to sign with a title contender.
Last season, the 33-year-old averaged 13.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists in his 68 regular season games last season. He boosted those averages to 13.9/9.0/4.4 in Boston’s nine playoff games, and averaged 16.2 points per game in the Celtics’ five-game series loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in the East semis.
But he’s much more than just the numbers on the stat sheet. Horford was a much-needed veteran presence for Boston’s young roster, since their lone All-Star didn’t fill that role very well, and was considered their glue guy on the floor. While the former No. 3 overall pick doesn’t light up the scoreboard much, he’s lauded for doing the intangibles that often go by the wayside in the today’s all-flash NBA.