The Oklahoma City Thunder and Al Horford have decided that it is best for all parties involved if Al Horford remains inactive for the rest of this season. Thunder General Manager Sam Presti has made it clear to Horford, and his agent, that the two sides will work to find him a new landing spot in the offseason, ESPN reports.
This is not that shocking, as the April Schedule shapes up to be an “aggressive” one as Mark Daigneault has put it since the All-Star Break. At best, Horford would have played in half the remaining games this year.
Al Horford has been another great veteran for the Thunder. On and off the floor. Horford has been great with the media, his teammates, and his play on the floor. The 13-year veteran averaged 14-points, 6-rebounds, and 3-assists in his 28-games this season.
The Thunder will work to find Horford a home that “fits this stage of his career.” which, obviously is not a rebuilding OKC team. This move also helps Oklahoma City lose games while spreading minutes around to their young players in the process of upping their lottery odds.
The questions have already begun from NBA Twitter, “Why not trade him?! Why not buy him out?!” Well, there are two very simple answers to that.
There was no a trade market at the deadline for the Florida products massive contract, and the two sides could not come to a finical agreement that benefits each party involved. If there is a chance Presti can deal Horford for pennies on the dollar even in a matter of months, he is going to take it rather than giving away 53-million dollars across the next two seasons of dead cap. For Horford, why give back money if you can get traded on this current deal in a matter of months?
What comes next for the Oklahoma City Thunder and its fans? Well, loses. The fanbase finally gets to put to bed the vocal minority narrative that this team is not trying to lose games. Now without Al Horford for the rest of this year, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for “A significant amount of time” the losses will pile up and the odds will rise that the Thunder can grab one (or two) of these five (or seven) franchise-changing prospects.
For the Oklahoma City Thunder, who already shut down Mike Muscala, the young bigs will have a ton of minutes. Headlined by Moses Brown, who will now be the Thunder starting center for the rest of the season.
The youth movement continues, and the franchise is in a better place for it. As Al Horford plays his final game in Oklahoma City, and this chapter of his career closes, a roar of thank yous should be laid at his feet. He handled everything thrown at him this season in the best way possible.