The Hawks are currently in fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings, but are only half a game out of the third and fourth spots. In other words, they’re in contention to win the East and make it to the NBA Finals. Some analysts believe the Hawks are “at a crossroads” regarding whether they should keep Horford or trade him while they can. Horford will become a free agent this summer, and Atlanta isn’t all that confident he’s going to stay in the ATL. If the Hawks don’t offer Horford a long-term max contract extension, there’s a good chance he will walk.
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Before we get to into this, let’s see if there are any teams that could snag Horford from the Hawks in free agency.
Due to the new salary cap which starts next season, approximately 15 teams will have over $20 million to spend, and I garuantee you that some of those teams will be interested in the skilled 29-year old center. Whether the Hawks choose to ship Horford or not will ultimately be determined by their confidence in securing a long-term deal. If they really feel like he’ll walk after this season, the Hawks won’t hesitate to trade him so they can get something in return for him.
Here’s a key point: The fact that the Hawks have been open to exploring trades for Jeff Teague shows that they will more than likely consider options with Horford. If you’re an NBA fan, you know how valuable two-way big men are in the Association. Several contending organizations would love to bring on board a steady big man like Horford, who plays hard on both ends of the floor.
Many teams are interested in him, but I’ll focus in on three potential trade partners.
The Pistons already have one of the best big men in the league, Andre Drummond. However, Drummond has some major flaws in his game. He lacks offensive versatility, and is a huge liability at the charity stripe. If the Pistons could pair the defense-minded Drummond with the offensively explosive Horford, that would combine for possibly the best frontcourt in the NBA, and would definitely propel the Pistons to the status of a contender in the Eastern Conference. Marcus Morris is a stretch forward who has been having a breakout season, and the Pistons have been trying to ship away Brandon Jennings for some time.
Hawks receive: Brandon Jennings, Marcus Morris, Joel Anthony
The Wizards have been pretty bad this season (even when allowing for injuries), and their frontcourt is the main reason to blame. Bringing Horford on board would immediately shake things up in D.C., and would finally bring that upper-tier big man to fuse with star point guard John Wall. The Wizards could use Otto Porter, Jr. as trade bait, and I could see them including a big man like Dejuan Blair to cap off the deal.
I think the Celtics are the best fit for Horford. They are a well-coached team that focuses on moving the ball and relying on each other in a context of mutual trust. I really like the way they play together. If the Celtics could acquire Horford, they would challenge the Toronto Raptors as the best team in the Atlantic Division, and would definitely become a contender like the good ‘ole days. I think the Celtics will have to offer a lot for Horford, which will result in them giving up their best piece. The addition of Horford to the Celtics will put him alongisde big men Kelly Olynyk and Amir Johnson, and that would be fun to see.
Will the Atlanta Hawks move Al Horford? The three trades I mentioned could happen, and are legitimate options. If the Hawks were to move Horford, I see the Wizards and Celtics as the teams with the best chance to get him.