Al Horford agreed to a two-year, $20 million extension with the Boston Celtics on Thursday, and before Friday's matchup against the Miami Heat, the veteran big man told reporters he had no interest in departing the franchise for a second time.
Horford said, via ESPN's Tim Bontemps:
"For me, I really did want to be a part of what we have going here. I felt like me coming back here last year, I felt the strides the group started to make and we've continued to make strides in the right direction.
"I feel like there's a real purpose of trying to win and the group that we have is just a really good group. So, I'm happy and we know we have a lot of work ahead. But this type of stability, it's hard to find."
"One of the things is, more than anything, you want to be in a place where you have a chance to contend, to win. A place that's, for me, more than basketball. Boston, I feel a real connection here with the people and with what the Celtics are all about, and it's something that just really excited me. And the fact that I get that opportunity and Brad believing in me and bringing me here, it's something that's special, and I'm really grateful for the opportunity."
Horford played for the Celtics from 2016-2019 before agreeing to a four-year, $109 million deal with the Philadelphia 76ers in free agency ahead of the 2019-20 campaign.
Following a disappointing season with the Sixers, he was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, where he spent the 2020-21 campaign and missed out on the playoffs for the first time in his career.
In his first stint with the Celtics, Horford averaged 13.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.2 blocks in 208 games across three seasons. He shot 49.8 percent from the floor and 38.2 percent from deep.
The Celtics made the Eastern Conference Finals in two of Horford's first three seasons. In his lone season with the 76ers, Philly was swept in the first round of the playoffs by Boston, which went on to the conference finals for the third time in four seasons.
The Celtics brought Horford back before the 2021-22 campaign in a deal that sent veteran point guard Kemba Walker to the Thunder. The move was Brad Stevens' first as Boston's president of basketball operations, a role he was promoted to following Danny Ainge's departure.
The trade proved to be exceptional as Horford thrived in his first season back in Boston, averaging 10.2 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.3 blocks in 69 games while shooting 46.7 percent from the floor and 33.6 percent from deep.
The 36-year-old was even better in the playoffs, averaging 12 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.3 blocks in 23 games while shooting 52.3 percent from the floor and 48 percent from deep. The Celtics went on to reach the NBA Finals, where they fell to the Golden State Warriors in six games.
Horford is in the midst of another impressive season with the C's, averaging 10.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 18 games while shooting 55.5 percent from the floor and 48.8 percent from deep.
The five-time All-Star has been an anchor for Boston at the five with Robert Williams III recovering from left knee surgery, and he'll undoubtedly be a significant factor for the Celtics in the postseason, provided they get there.
The Celtics are first in the Eastern Conference with an 18-4 record entering Friday's game against the Heat. They haven't lost a game since Nov. 21 against the Chicago Bulls.