When Al Horford claimed his free-agent path could have been different if he'd known Kemba Walker was coming to the Celtics to replace Kyrie Irving, many of us pointed back to the nearly impossible three-team sign-and-trade Danny Ainge would have had to execute in order to land both Walker and Horford in one move.
Boston would have received Walker from the Hornets, sent Terry Rozier and his new contract to Charlotte and given Irving to Brooklyn along with an additional asset as an incentive to help the Celtics execute the trade. The Celtics could then re-sign Horford to the contract he wanted and then operated as an over-the-cap team to legally acquire Walker.
As Chris Forsberg outlined earlier this week, the major hurdle in the deal was presumably convincing the Nets to help a conference rival acquire an All-Star point guard in free agency without having to give up its All-Star center.
According to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, such a trade was discussed, and the Celtics were prepared to meet the Nets' asking price to execute the trade. However, the deal never got to the final stages because of Horford's commitment to the Philadelphia 76ers. He honored his commitment and signed a four-year $97 million contract with Philly on June 30.
The Celtics already had Walker's commitment days before free agency began, so Horford was seemingly locked in on Philadelphia well beforehand. Afterward, the Celtics were reportedly stomping their feet at teams tampering with Horford before he decided to opt-out of his contract with the Celtics. The level of tampering that occurred this summer kickstarted an effort by the NAB to crack down on such behavior moving forward.
But it's all over now. Walker is a Celtic, Horford is a Sixer and Boston now must figure out how to navigate a Horford-Joel Embiid frontcourt without any proven interior defender on the roster.
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NBA Rumors: Three-way trade to bring Al Horford back to Boston was discussed originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston