Al Horford explains why he left Celtics, was 'surprised' by Sixers' interest

Darren Hartwell

It looked Al Horford would re-sign with the Boston Celtics this offseason ... until it didn't.

The veteran big man declined his player option in Boston last month after contract extension talks with the Celtics broke down, as he reportedly expected a better deal elsewhere.

When NBA free agency began, the rival Philadelphia 76ers swooped in, landing Horford on a four-year, $109 million contract. In his introductory Sixers press conference Friday, Horford described his side of the process that led him from Boston to Philly.

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"It wasn't an easy decision," Horford said of opting out. "I felt like there was going to be a lot of options for me. When June 30 came around, things escalated very, very quickly. There were multiple teams, a lot of strong interest and I had to make the best decision for me.

"When (Sixers general manager) Elton (Brand) called and spoke with my agent, he laid down this offer. I was very surprised there was that strong interest for me being here. It made the decision very easy. I'm just excited to be a part of this."

Horford's contract is almost fully guaranteed ($97 million of a total $109 million) and includes $12 million in bonuses tied to championships.

The 33-year-old apparently believes those bonuses are in reach, as he spoke positively about teaming up with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons on a strong Sixers squad.

"I think opportunity to play for this type of organization, for this city, was something that I really had to consider and look at," Horford said.

"We've got a good group here. ... I feel really good about our future."

The Celtics are hoping the success of their former player doesn't come at their own expense.

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Al Horford explains why he left Celtics, was 'surprised' by Sixers' interest originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

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