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Brad Stevens says Celtics wanted Al Horford back, but All-Star made his own ‘choice’

Brad Stevens, Al Horford

Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens says the team obviously wanted Al Horford back, but the All-Star made his own “choice” in free agency.

Horford signed a four-year, $109 million contract with the rival Philadelphia 76ers. Stevens says the Celtics appreciate what Horford did for them in his three years with the club:

“Obviously, Al was great here,” Stevens said, via The Boston Globe. “We loved Al, and we wanted him back. Again, it’s his choice. He can go do what he wants to do, and there’s a lot of factors that end up helping these guys making those decisions. But he’s a heck of a player and did a great job here in the three years he was here.”

The Celtics lost both Al Horford and Kyrie Irving in free agency. Boston was able to sign All-Star point guard Kemba Walker to replace Irving. The Celtics traded Terry Rozier to the Hornets in the sign-and-trade deal to acquire Walker.

This past season with the Celtics, Horford averaged 13.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists while shooting 53.5 percent from the field, 36.0 percent from beyond the arc and 82.1 percent from the free-throw line.

Boston is hoping its core of Walker, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward and Marcus Smart will be able to lead the team deeper in the playoffs than the club went in 2018-19. The Celtics lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of the 2019 playoffs in five games.