The Oklahoma City Thunder and Al Horford have agreed that the best course of action for both parties is for Horford to sit out the remainder of the season.
According to a press release, the plan is for Al Horford to sit out the remainder of the season, but will remain with the team and train at the team’s practice facility.
The Thunder will spend the rest of the season playing and evaluating their young roster.
“When I arrived, I understood the direction of the team, we had a great individual plan in place for me, and I feel like as a result, I’ve played really good basketball for the Thunder, Horford said in a statement. “At the same time, I know what it’s like to be a young, aspiring player, and at this point in the season, I understand how important playing meaningful minutes is for their careers and their development. I also understand how important it is for the organization to give them that opportunity. I’m looking forward to supporting the guys who supported me, watching them continue to play the right way and play together as we have throughout the season, while still being around the team and continuing my training.”
At 34, the Thunder saw no point in risking Horford getting injured playing meaningless games as the team heads towards the bottom of the standings.
Horford will have two years left on his current contract after this season worth $53 million.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the team will do Horford right by trying to trade him to his preferred destination in the offseason.
Horford plans to remain w/ OKC teammates and train at the team’s facility. After season, Horford will have 2 years, $53M left on deal and Sam Presti has pledged to work w/ Horford and his agent Jason Glushon on finding a destination that fits better with this stage of his career. https://t.co/TjNoJ4w2zE— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 27, 2021
This is becoming a trend with the Thunder where they respect the request of their veteran players on where they want to be traded to while also helping the franchise gain assets in a trade.
This has happened with Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers, Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets, and Chris Paul to the Phoenix Suns.
Doing so will give the Thunder great PR among other top NBA players as they become viewed by the NBA world as respectable front offices who do their franchise stars right.
This can pay great dividends in the future when the Thunder will inevitably return to contending and try to pitch free agents as to why they should sign with Oklahoma City.
This news should not be all that surprising.
Playing Horford starter minutes would unnecessarily increase the chances of him suffering an injury or poor play tanking his trade value. Horford has also rested in five of his last nine games, which included four straight before returning to the court this past Wednesday in what is now his final game of the year against the Grizzlies.
Beforehand, Horford would only rest during one game of a back-to-back, but the recent increase in DNPs indicated that this was the direction the team was heading towards.
Another interesting tidbit from Wojnarowski’s article is that he notes that this decision was sped up when Shai Gilgeous-Alexander began suffering plantar fasciitis this past week.
This makes it sound like SGA’s season is most likely done with.
In 34 games this season, Horford will finish averaging 14.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 3.4 assists a game. More notably, Horford had career highs in three-pointers attempted (5.4) and three-pointers made (2) a game.
Horford’s ability to stretch the floor should increase his trade value among contending teams that will try to talk themselves into trading for the 15-year veteran.
With Horford out, expect the Thunder’s sudden logjam of center to fight out for his minutes. This includes the likes of Isaiah Roby, Moses Brown, and the newly-acquired Tony Bradley.