At 36 years old, Boston Celtics veteran Al Horford is older than most NBA starters (and even older than head coach Joe Mazzulla). Yet, he has shown he still has an important role to play for the C’s, and the front office recognizes it. Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the center agreed to a two-year, $20 million extension with the Celtics that’ll keep him wearing green for the foreseeable future.
While an extension for a player this far into their career isn’t super common, Horford is more than deserving. As the Celtics continue to win during the 2022-23 season, the five-time All-Star continues to show his worth.
So, here are three key reasons why Boston made a brilliant move in keeping Horford in Beantown.
3. Al Horford is contributing on a nightly basis
In his 16th year playing in the NBA, Al Horford is still playing at a relatively high level. While he’s not the All-Star he once was, his 10.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game while shooting 48.8% from 3-point range make him a valuable asset to any squad.
With his tough defense and improved shooting from deep, Horford has developed his game enough to the point where he’s a modern NBA center. When he entered the league, his 3-point shooting was basically non-existent, as that’s not what was needed in that era of basketball. But today, when the 3-ball rules, it doesn’t hurt to have every player on the court be a deep threat, and the 36-year-old has proved his potential from beyond the arc this year.
Al Horford just set a career-high with his 6th 3-pointer of the night. He finishes the night 6-for-8 from deep. pic.twitter.com/ZcECQgUuTi
— Taylor Snow (@taylorcsnow) November 12, 2022
In addition, Horford has stepped in for Robert Williams III and held his own on defensive assignments. Although Timelord is likely the better option when he gets back to full strength, it’s always a good idea to have a reliable big rostered.
2. This move locks up most of the core group for the next few years
Last season, Boston truly opened up its championship window, as the duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown helped lead the C’s to the NBA Finals. While they fell short of their ultimate goal, the window is still wide open this season and Boston has a league-best 18-4 overall record. It seems that, so far, president of basketball operations Brad Stevens is opting for the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” method regarding team negotiations.
With Tatum, Marcus Smart, Derrick White, Malcolm Brogdon, and a few other C’s already locked up until the 2024-25 season, it makes sense that the front office wanted to include Al Horford in that group. The former Florida Gator has been a key part of their past playoff rosters, and by keeping him under contract, the front office is doubling down on their trust in this core to win an NBA title.
Early extensions since Brad Stevens took over in June 2021: Marcus Smart, Robert Williams, Josh Richardson (then flipped as part of Derrick White deal), Al Horford.
— Chris Forsberg (@ChrisForsberg_) December 1, 2022
We will just have to see if Grant Williams joins this group in the offseason.
1. Al Horford will have a role with the Celtics even approaching 40
It’s hard to tell what will be in store for Al Horford when he’s nearly 40, but his longevity thus far in his career has been impressive.
Yet, even if Big Al regresses a bit toward the end of his extension, he can still fit in with the Celtics. He’s a reliable backup center who could provide solid minutes off the bench in the future and a veteran who has seen plenty of winning basketball in his life.
In college, he helped Florida win back-to-back national championships (a feat that hasn’t been repeated since) and has played in a whopping 147 NBA playoff games. His leadership is certainly significant to the C’s, and he can act as a mentor for the younger Celtics with less postseason experience.
Payton Pritchard on Al Horford: "His leadership alone has been unbelievable. Obviously he's done great things on the court – his defense, him knocking down threes – but his leadership has been the biggest thing, just that veteran presence. That's gone a long way." pic.twitter.com/ZyqGGiLlpo
— Taylor Snow (@taylorcsnow) June 1, 2022
As long as Al Horford can maintain his health, he should continue to contribute to Boston’s winning ways. And even though he has yet to raise an NBA trophy over the course of his long career, he’ll hopefully get another shot at a title with the league-leading Celtics.