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Al Horford to Celtics: Latest Contract Details, Comments and Reaction

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist

Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford dribbles during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls, Friday, Feb. 26, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brett Davis)
Brett Davis/Associated Press

Coveted free-agent center Al Horford reached an agreement with the Boston Celtics on July 2. Horford announced his decision on Twitter:

Al Horford @Al_Horford

Celtic Pride!!!!!! πŸ€πŸ€πŸ€πŸ€πŸ€πŸ€πŸ€πŸ€πŸ€πŸ€πŸ€πŸ€πŸ€πŸ€πŸ€πŸ€πŸ€πŸ€

Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reported that Horford "relented on the late [Atlanta] Hawks push" and informed the Celtics he will sign a max deal with them. According to Wojnarowski, the contract is expected to be a four-year, $113 million pact, which can become official July 7.Β 

Horford talked about his decision Friday, per Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com:

It was a very difficult decision for me. I had a great situation in Atlanta, great years. I have a lot of respect for the organization and the fans there. … I like the direction that I saw when I met with [the Celtics]. I felt comfortable. I felt confident in the potential and what can be. And I'm very encouraged by the group of players that are here. Lot of young hard-working talented players and just playing in that series I saw the passion that they played with and how much better they got as a team throughout the season. It's something that excites me to be a part of this.

Wojnarowski added that there was "tremendous momentum for [the] Hawks in [the] final hours." However, the two sides were $6 million apart, per Wojnarowski. Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com reported Atlanta's offer "topped out" at five years and $136 million.

Kevin Durant had also been recruiting Horford to Oklahoma City, per Wojnarowski, but Horford moved on from the Thunder with no guarantee that Durant and Russell Westbrook would be with the team in the long term.

Al Horford's father, Tito Horford, discussed part of the reason his son elected to join the Celtics, per Adam Himmelsbach of theΒ Boston Globe:

There wasn’t as much motivation for him when he saw all the empty seats when they were winning. He said to me, "Dad, when we were playing Boston, they were down 15 points and they were cheering their team like they were winning the game. They’re so into the game." This is special for us, especially for him.

Horford had been a stalwart for the Hawks since Atlanta selected him with the third overall pick in the 2007 draft. The Florida product has averaged 14.3 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game while shooting 53.5 percent from the field across nine NBA seasons.

The 30-year-old Dominican Republic native, who's twice missed an extended period during his career because of a torn pectoral muscle, is coming off a 2015-16 campaign in which he played all 82 games. His strong play continued as well, as he checked in at 15.2 points and 7.3 rebounds per contest.

Horford wasn't ready to comment on his future after the Cleveland Cavaliers eliminated the Hawks in the second round of the playoffs, but he did talk about the impression the city made on him, asΒ Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionΒ relayed.

"It means a lot," Horford said. "I've set up here with my family. We all live here. We live here in the summer. We live here year-round. I'm very grateful for all the people here. They have taken me in from the very first day, even though I was a Gator. They loved me. I really love the city."

Yet his status remained uncertain as he headed toward free agency with no shortage of teams looking to upgrade their frontcourts this summer.

Ultimately, Horford decided the Celtics were the best overall fit.Β 

A reliable post presence like Horford is exactly what the team needed. It's built a solid group of perimeter and wing assets, including Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart, but there's been a lack of steady production down low.

Even in today's game, which places a crucial emphasis on perimeter scoring, teams still need at least some post presence to succeed. Horford proved his worth in that role in Atlanta and should be utilized in a similar way in Boston.

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