Al Horford has been a huge part of the Bostons Celtics' run to the NBA Finals, and it appears the franchise plans to keep him on board for the 2022-23 campaign at his full salary.
Horford's contract became guaranteed up to $19.5 million with Boston's berth in the 2022 NBA Finals. If they win the Finals, his 2022-23 salary will rise to $26.5 million. However, MassLive's Brian Robb reported Monday the Celtics plan to give Horford a guaranteed $26.5 million in the final year of his contract whether the team wins the title or not.
The Celtics acquired Horford from the Oklahoma City Thunder ahead of the 2021-22 campaign and he has been solid in his second stint with the franchise.
During the regular season, Horford averaged 10.2 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.3 blocks in 69 games. He has been even better in the playoffs against some of the NBA's toughest opponents, including Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Bam Adebayo, averaging 11.9 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.6 blocks in 17 games.
Horford, who will turn 36 on June 3, had never been to the NBA Finals, having played 141 playoff games without reaching the league's biggest stage. He ended that streak with a Game 7 win over the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday.
Horford had a solid performance in Game 7, too, posting five points, 14 rebounds, three assists, one steal and two blocks in the win. His Celtics teammates lauded him after the victory.
Jaylen Brown told reporters:
"Nobody deserves it more than this guy on my right. His energy, his demeanor. Coming in every day, being a professional, taking care of his body, being a leader. I'm proud to be able to share this moment with a veteran, a mentor, a brother, a guy like Al Horford, man. He's been great all season, really my whole career. So, I'm happy to be able to share this moment with somebody like him."
Based on his performance this season, there was little question about whether the Celtics should bring Horford back.
If he continues to impress in the NBA Finals against the Warriors, he'll only have furthered his case to make $26.5 million next season, regardless of the outcome.
Game 1 between the Celtics and Warriors is set for Thursday at Chase Center in San Francisco.