The NBA trade deadline has come and gone for this season. However, there is plenty of speculation about where one Sixers player may end up in 2021.
Al Horford has been a spectacularly mystifying disappointment during his first year in Philadelphia. Whether it’s due to a bad fit in the offense or a lack of effort, it’s been a tough pill to swallow. Making matters worse, the Sixers doled out a four-year, $109 million contract to the power forward. That deal included $97 million guaranteed. It’s an albatross, one the team will be hard-pressed to find another franchise to take on. Maybe not.
According to CBS Sports’ Sam Quinn, the Cavaliers could be an intriguing trading partner for Horford. Cleveland overpaid for Love in 2018 as they tried to piece together their post-LeBron James edition. It was a risky move, a four-year, $120 million experiment gone awry. Love reportedly wants out of Cleveland but the Cavaliers were unable to move him at the deadline.
Here’s how a deal to Philadelphia might make sense, per CBS Sports (spoiler alert: the Sixers would have to give up two second-round draft picks):
In Horford, Cleveland at least gets a center who makes more sense on a rebuilding roster than Love does. His defense, half-court passing and screening should be nice developmental boosters for a team filled with young guards. Boston’s young players thrived alongside Horford. Ideally, he’d have the same effect in Cleveland. Even if he doesn’t, getting two second-round picks in what is essentially a dead money swap for their purposes, including one that should be quite valuable, is a nice bit of a contractual arbitrage.
Horford: ‘I Can’t Control Speculation’
Al Horford has suddenly found himself at the center of trade speculation. He isn’t worried. He can only focus on what is in front of him — and that is helping the Sixers make a playoff push. Horford is “focused on right now,” per The Inquirer‘s Keith Pompey.
“All I can say is I am focused on right now,” Horford told Pompey. “I can’t control speculation. That is a decision they would have to make when the time is right. Right now, I am focused on getting some wins for our team.”
The rumors started on Feb. 28 when a USA Today report predicted, citing sources, the Sixers would try to trade Horford in the offseason. Philadelphia would want a shooter in return, plus the team to absorb Horford’s insanely rich contract. The report made it clear that the Sixers did not try to move Horford at the trade deadline.
Per USA Today‘s Jeff Zillgitt:
Short of a deep and surprising run in the playoffs, where do the Sixers go from here? Though the Sixers did not try to move Horford at the trade deadline, that might be a possibility in the off-season – if they can send that contract to another team and get shooting in return – a person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports. The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about Philadelphia’s plans.
Horford is averaging 11.7 points and 8.3 rebounds in 30.6 minutes per game for Philadelphia this season. After a demotion to the bench, the big man has been serving as the team’s starting center in the absence of Joel Embiid.