Horford had been a four-time All-Star in his nine seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, and his decision to join the Celtics gives Boston a chance to elevate itself in the Eastern Conference.
Boston met with Kevin Durant on Saturday in the Hamptons in Long Island, N.Y., and will try to sell Durant on joining Horford in the Celtics’ frontcourt. Durant spent part of the past week trying to persuade Horford to consider joining the Oklahoma City Thunder in free agency, but Horford didn’t want to risk Durant and Russell Westbrook leaving via free agency in the next year, league sources said.
Horford and the Atlanta Hawks negotiated throughout Saturday and couldn’t close the gap on Horford’s financial demands, sources said. Horford wanted a deal in the $140 million range, and the Hawks’ final offer fell several million short, league sources said.
Horford had been considering Boston, Washington and Atlanta in the final hours, sources said. At times, sources said, Horford had been more intrigued with the possibility of aligning with the Wizards’ backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal, but ended up choosing the Celtics.
Horford could’ve only returned to Atlanta if the team traded forward Paul Millsap, and Atlanta general manager Wes Wilcox had several trade contingencies available to clear the cap space to retain Horford, sources said.
Horford had been negotiating a new five-year contract with Atlanta, but talks stalled this week – and the Hawks moved quickly to sign free agent Dwight Howard and re-sign guard Kent Bazemore.
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