Al Horford on Joining Celtics After Trade: 'This Is a Place I Want to Be'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 24, 2021

Oklahoma City Thunder center Al Horford (42) during an NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

Al Horford is happy to be a Boston Celtic once again

"When this opportunity came up, [I was] really grateful," he told reporters Thursday. "This is a place I want to be."

Horford, 35, spent three seasons with Boston before signing in Philadelphia ahead of the 2019-20 season, averaging 13.5 points and seven rebounds with the Celtics, appearing in one All-Star Game during that time. 

His time in Philly was an abject disaster, however, as the spacing between him, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Josh Richardson and Tobias Harris would have been bad in '90s basketball, let alone the modern era. 

And he appeared in just 28 games for the Oklahoma City Thunder this past season after the Sixers traded him, as the team and Horford mutually agreed to shut him down in late March, opening up more minutes for younger players on the rebuilding Thunder. 

So, yes, Horford is pleased to be back in Boston. 

"First of all, I'm really, really happy to be back," he told reporters. "I really appreciate how special of a place Boston is. Being away, I know how special the city is and how special the team is to the city."

Keith Smith @KeithSmithNBA

Horford on what the last couple of years were like: "For me personally, there was a lot of growth. Things didn't pan out in Philadelphia the way they were supposed to be. Then in Oklahoma City with the young guys, I was thankful to be in the position to show what I can do."

Jay King @ByJayKing

Al Horford said Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Robert Williams reached out to him after the trade. Horford said he wants the Celtics to take advantage of the summer, get better individually, and then “start to build it back up” once the team gets back together.

And former head coach and new president of basketball operations Brad Stevens is glad to have him.

"Al can move the needle," he told reporters earlier in the week. "Al had a good year in Oklahoma City—obviously didn't play a ton of games, but statistically had a year that obviously applies across the board. I think that sometimes the ability to space, pass, play in different ways and play in different coverages at the other end, be able to play with other bigs or as the lone 5 I think is something that...he just has a wealth of experience."