Al Horford on His 76ers Stint: 'We Just Weren't Jelling. We Weren't Meshing'

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistFebruary 26, 2021

Philadelphia 76ers' Al Horford (42) shoots against the Houston Rockets during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool)
Ashley Landis/Associated Press

It's no secret the one-year relationship between Al Horford and the Philadelphia 76ers didn't work, though the five-time All-Star doesn't have an exact reason why it failed. 

Speaking to Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix, Horford could only say "it just wasn't a good fit" with the Sixers. 

“We just weren't jelling," he added. "We weren't meshing. And obviously, we had a lot of big guys out there in particular out playing and it just wasn't fitting."

Philadelphia signed Horford to a four-year, $109 million contract in July 2019. The team put an emphasis on building a big lineup last season that also included Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Josh Richardson. 

Horford's raw stat line was decent, as he averaged 11.9 points on 35 percent shooting from three-point range and 6.8 rebounds per game. But his game never coalesced well with the rest of Philadelphia's roster, particularly the strengths of Embiid and Simmons. 

As ESPN's Tim Bontemps noted last February, then-76ers head coach Brett Brown had Horford playing defense mostly on the perimeter when he and Embiid were on the floor at the same time.

"While he still plays the pivot when Embiid is on the bench or out with an injury, Horford has played 32 percent of his minutes this season at power forward, after playing just 9 percent at that spot a season ago, according to Cleaning the Glass," Bontemps wrote.

Philadelphia tried experimenting with Horford coming off the bench for a few games last season to stagger minutes with Embiid, but nothing made the fit between the two sides any better. The Sixers were swept out of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics. 

Horford was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in December. The 34-year-old has been one of their best players this season, averaging 14.6 points per game with a 37.9 three-point percentage in 22 games.