Al Horford Rumors: Nets ‘a Team to Keep an Eye On’ amid Buzz of Celtics Exit

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Elise Amendola/Associated Press

The Brooklyn Nets reportedly could be in the mix to sign veteran big man Al Horford, who is set the depart the Boston Celtics after three seasons.

A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston called Brooklyn “a team to keep an eye on” in the Horford sweepstakes:

A. Sherrod Blakely @ASherrodblakely

A team to keep an eye on in the Al Horford sweepstakes is the Brooklyn Nets, league source says. The #Nets are a team on the rise, Al’s close ties to head coach Kenny Atkinson and the team’s cap space mentioned as the main reasons.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday that the 33-year-old would decline the $30.1 million option in his contract and seek a contract with a new team since he and the Celtics were too far apart in discussions.

If Horford does leave for Brooklyn, he may not be the only Celtic making that move. Guard Kyrie Irving has been linked heavily to the Nets after spending the past two seasons with the Celtics.

Adam Himmelsbachof the Boston Globe reported Tuesday that Irving has “essentially ghosted” the Celtics in recent weeks, which suggests he may be planning to sign elsewhere.

If Kyrie does leave Boston, the Nets have arguably established themselves as the favorites to land him. Per SNY’s Ian Begley, teams that are pursuing Irving, who grew up in New Jersey,believe he currently favors the Nets over his other potential suitors.

A 12-year veteran, Horford may be in line to land the final big contract of his career. The five-time All-Star hits free agency at an opportune time since he has proved to be a valuable player for the Celtics over the past few seasons.

Horford contributed across the board last season with averages of 13.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.3 blocks per game while shooting 53.5 percent from the field and 36.0 percent from beyond the arc.

Since Brooklyn is a young, up-and-coming team that reached the playoffs last season as the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference, Horford would be an ideal fit. The forward/center has 120 games of playoff experience to his credit.

The 6’10”, 245-pounder would make up one half of a formidable frontcourt duo with 21-year-old Jarrett Allen, who is quickly developing into one of the NBA’s best young centers.

With a core of Allen, Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris and either Irving or D’Angelo Russell surrounding Horford, Brooklyn would have a chance to make strides and become a more viable contender in the East next season.