Reports: Celtics big man Al Horford likely to sign elsewhere after declining $30.1M player option

<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/teams/boston/" data-ylk="slk:Boston Celtics">Boston Celtics</a> center <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/4245/" data-ylk="slk:Al Horford">Al Horford</a> will reportedly decline his $30.1 million player option and become a free agent. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Boston Celtics center Al Horford will reportedly decline his $30.1 million player option and become a free agent. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

Al Horford will hit the free-agent market, and it appears the Boston Celtics will not be his destination.

According to ESPN, Horford has decided not to exercise the $30.1 million player option on his contract with the Celtics. The move means Horford, 33, will become an unrestricted free agent.

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Horford, a five-time All-Star, has spent the last three seasons with the Celtics and was an integral part of the team’s run to the Eastern Conference finals in 2017 and 2018.

After reports from ESPN that Horford and the Celtics are “interested in working toward a new deal,” negotiations have reportedly fallen through after the Celtics were reluctant to give Horford a long-term deal. Horford now seems set to sign elsewhere.

With it looking more and more likely that Kyrie Irving will leave Boston, bringing back Horford was a priority for the Celtics’ hope to remain a contender in the stacked Eastern Conference.

Horford, after nine seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, signed a four-year, $113 million deal with the Celtics in 2016. He has reached the postseason 11 times in his 12 years as a pro, but has yet to win an NBA title.

Now, the Celtics are set to lose their points, assists, rebounds and blocks leader between Horford and Irving. That would qualify as a rough offseason.

Life after Kyrie Irving and Al Horford for Celtics

With Irving and Horford expected to depart following a tumultuous season, the Celtics, who came up short in the Anthony Davis trade sweepstakes, could look to move forward with a core centered around young players Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart.

Missing out on Horford should at least give the Celtics some cap space to bring back restricted free agents Terry Rozier and Marcus Morris, unless the team wants to make a free agent splash to replace its stars.

While Morris had a strong season, averaging 13.9 points while shooting 44.7 percent from the field, Rozier took a backseat at the guard spot behind Irving. Rozier flourished with Irving sidelined in 2018, but was frustrated with his role throughout 2019.

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