Brand on Horford: ‘We have gained a championship-level teammate’

Al Horford to the 76ers has become official, the team announced today. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, it’s a four-year, $109 million deal.

For the 76ers, this is an opportunity to build on what they did last season. Philadelphia was a few bounces away from possibly moving on to the Eastern Conference Finals, and based on what happened to the Warriors in the NBA Finals, Philadelphia could have easily won an NBA title last season.

“We’re excited to welcome one of the NBA’s best front-court players in Al Horford to Philadelphia,” said 76er GM Elton Brand. “He has built his reputation around hard work and a tradition of winning, which are the same qualities that have formed the foundation of the 76ers. Al’s playmaking, elite defensive talents, and veteran leadership confirm why he is a crucial addition to our roster. We have gained a championship-level teammate that will not only complement our current makeup but will help grow our young core as we strive for the highest level of success.”

Last season, the five-time All-Star appeared in 68 games (all starts) for Boston and posted 13.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.3 blocks in 29.0 minutes per game, joining NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo as the only two players in the league to hold such averages.

The acquisition of Horford, 33, does two things for the 76ers. First, it weakens the Boston Celtics. Horford did a great job against Joel Embiid. Also, it allows Embiid to learn from a 12-year veteran, who is a consummate professional.

The time is now for the 76ers, and by re-signing Tobias Harris, acquiring Josh Richardson in a sign-and-trade for Jimmy Butler, and bringing in Horford. Philadelphia is looking to win a championship next season.

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Are 76ers better today than they were at the end of last season?

The Philadelphia 76ers were very active on the first day of free agency. They reportedly re-signed Tobias Harris to a five-year deal, traded Jimmy Butler(signed four-year deal with Miami) to the Heat in a sign-and-trade for Josh Richardson(deal still being worked on), and signed Al Horford to a four-year contract. Also, Mike Scott re-upped with the team, and JJ Redick has moved on to the Pelicans. These deals can’t be official until July 6.

So, at this point, Philly’s projected starting lineup is Ben Simmons, Richardson, Harris, Horford, and Joel Embiid. That is an excellent lineup, and this lineup has the potential to be very good on the defensive end. All the starters will be at least 6’6″ or taller. However, is it better than what they had to finish last season? Not so sure.

One of the issues Philly had before they brought in Butler, was not having a guy who can beat you off the dribble and effectively create their own shot. Butler did that for the 76ers. He was a guy you can give the ball to and ask him to make a play, which was on full display against the Raptors in the playoffs, where he led the team in points per game(22.0) and assists per game(5.6). He was Philly’s best player in that series. People forget it was Butler who tied the game up late in the fourth quarter before Kawhi Leonard hit that miracle shot to close out the series. With Butler taking his talents to South Beach, it’s going to be imperative for Ben Simmons to step up. Simmons, who made his first All-Star team last season, can do a lot, but since he has not developed his jump shot yet, he can’t be your closer. Also, Harris is a good offensive player. However, while he is solid off the dribble, he is not Butler, and for as good as Embiid is, he is not a guy who can get a shot off the way Butler can late in games.

It’s going to be interesting to see how this new lineup works for Philadelphia. It’s definitely more versatile and more athletic, on paper than what they had last season, but in terms of better, time will have to be the judge of that. Remember, this team was a couple of bounces away from advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals and beating the eventual champions, the Toronto Raptors.

Obviously, they will add more pieces to this roster, but for now, it’s too close to call on whether this starting five and team will be better than what they had last season.

I guess we gotta see how this all plays out!

ESPN’s Amin Elhassan on Celtics’ Horford: ‘He’s been the backbone of a lot of their success'(Video)

When the season ended for the Boston Celtics, many believed that Kyrie Irving had played his last game with the team. Irving, who will be an unrestricted free agent, had reportedly been unhappy in Boston for most of the season, so him wanting out of Boston is not that much of a surprise. However, what surprised many was the report that Al Horford, who has a player option for next season, may opt out of the final year of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent. Horford is scheduled to make $30.1 million in 2019-20.

While the 33-year-old Horford may opt out of his contract, reports are that he and the Celtics could come together on a multi-year deal. However, Horford should garner a lot of interest on the open market, and according to ESPN’s Amin Elhassan, Horford could be harder to replace than Irving.

“I think he’s(Kyrie Irving) going to move on. I think the Celtics have known that he’s going to move on for quite a while,” Elhassan recently told Paul Gant. “I don’t think that was as unexpected to them as the Al Horford stuff. That’s the kick in the gut for them because you are talking about a guy who they thought they could lock in at a lower number for a few more years. Now, it looks like he’s looking to leave. He’s been the backbone of a lot of their success there. Defensively, he has been their best player, and offensively, such a high IQ player. To lose him, I think that would be difficult to replace piece for the Celtics.”

Horford, with his versatility, would be harder to replace, and losing him would hurt the team. Therefore, it’s imperative that Boston does whatever it can to keep him around.

Listen below as Elhassan talks Celtics, 76ers, Rockets, Warriors, and more: