Celtics aim to extend Al Horford but remain active on trade market looking for replacement

Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis may be the big names revolving around the Boston Celtics’ offseason, but there’s another crucial piece to figure out: Al Horford.

The 33-year-old big man holds a $30.1 million player option for the final year of his contract. Although he won’t be able to get close to that annual value in a long-term contract, the five-time All-Star may want to lock down one final big payday.

The Celtics would certainly like to keep around Horford next season, and general manager Danny Ainge recently said that he’d like to work out an extension if possible.

“That will be discussed," Ainge said, via "That’s one of the priorities on our list as well.”

Not only could a restructured deal lock Horford in for the foreseeable future, it would also lessen his cap hit for next season — potentially by half. That would make the Celtics’ luxury tax bill smaller and potentially make it easier to add another player through free agency.

Because Horford is at least three years into his four-year contract, he is eligible to renegotiate his contract. However, the CBA prevents the Celtics from lowering his salary, so it may be easier to work out a new deal before Horford potentially picks up his option.

The deadline for players to make a decision on player or early termination options is June 29.

Boston Celtics' Kyrie Irving, back right, and Al Horford (42) double-team Houston Rockets' Clint Capela (15) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Sunday, March 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Al Horford could opt out of his $30.1 million player option for next season. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Who might the Celtics turn to if Horford leaves?

Although it seems unlikely now, it’s possible that Horford could opt out of his deal and land with a new team, potentially leaving the Celtics without either of its All-Stars from the last few seasons.

With such a wide range of possibilities for how the offseason could go — all or none of Irving, Davis and Horford could suit up next season — the Celtics have explored plenty of options.

According to a report from Basketball Insiders’ Steve Kyler, the Celtics have actively pursued Houston Rockets center Clint Capela.

Capela is not nearly as capable on offense as Horford, but he’s eight years younger and one of the top defensive big men in the league. He scored career-highs in points (16.6) and rebounds (12.7) last season while finishing 11th in the league with 1.5 blocks per game.

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