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Celtics rumors: Al Horford was not happy with traditional center role

Al Horford, Celtics

Five-time NBA All-Star Al Horford made one of the most surprising moves so far in 2019 NBA free agency by eschewing his former team, the Boston Celtics, in favor of division rivals, the Philadelphia 76ers on a 4-year, $109 million deal.

According to a story by Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald, while the money certainly helped, one of the main reasons why Horford opted to sign with the Sixers instead of the Celtics was because he didn’t want to play as much traditional center, which took a heavy toll on his 33-year-old body.

Per Murphy’s story “Horford has always been uncomfortable in a traditional center’s role, and the nightly toll the pounding takes on his aging body. Though he guarded his new teammate, Joel Embiid, as well as anyone in the league, Horford may have also looked forward to a chance to finally be slotted as a pure stretch power forward. Had he remained in Boston, now with Aron Baynes gone, he likely would have seen more of the same.”

Indeed, according to Basketball Reference, the modern move towards small ball saw Horford play 92 percent of his minutes at the five, which was his highest total since the 2013-14 season with Atlanta.

Of course, joining up with the 76ers meant that Horford wouldn’t have to face off against one of the most towering centers in the NBA, Joel Embiid, who was one of Horford’s toughest marks in the regular season and playoffs.

Horford will surely be a significant piece for the new-look Sixers next season.