It didn’t take long for Brad Stevens to make a splash in his new role as president of basketball operations for the Boston Celtics. On Friday, he pulled off a big trade sending Kemba Walker and multiple draft picks in exchange for Al Horford, Moses Brown and a future second-round selection.
The most important aspect of the deal for the Celtics was that they were able to get out of paying Walker $73 million over the next two years. Those savings could go a long way toward avoiding hefty luxury tax payments and giving Stevens more flexibility to upgrade his roster.
However, the Horford component is a big one as well.
The 35-year-old may be nearing the end of his career, but he was a fan favorite and key cog on the court during his previous stay in Beantown. And he played well when he was actually on the floor for the Oklahoma City Thunder last season, too, averaging 14.2 points, 6.7 boards and 3.4 assists per game. He could really help the Celtics next season.
For his part, Horford took to social media with a strong reaction to the blockbuster deal and his Celtics homecoming.
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Al Horford Talks Coming ‘Home’
Horford wasted little time in hopping onto Instagram as soon as word of the trade began to circulate on the hoops blogosphere. And for members of Celtics Nation, his response post was about as wholesome as it gets.
Less than an hour after the Woj bomb dropped, Horford posted a “Flashback Friday” picture of himself and his family laying atop the Celtics logo on the parquet floor at TD Garden. In the caption, he sent a strong message about how he feels to be returning to his former squad.
“Back Home! Grateful for this opportunity,” Horford wrote in the post. “Unfinished business. Go Celtics!”
As of this writing, the Insta-update had already amassed nearly 75,000 likes. And the comment thread was flush with Celtics fans who were hyped about the homecoming.
“Good to see Embiids dad back in green!!” joked one Beantowner.
“LETS GOOOOOOOO GET THIS RING HORF,” exclaimed a second fan.
“Welcome back al we missed u glad ur back,” wrote another commenter.
In addition to his Instagram post, Horford also re-tweeted a post he had made back in 2016 when he agreed to sign with the Cs for the first time:
Kemba’s Celtics Run at a Glance
Although it didn’t lead to the championship many had hoped it would, Walker’s two-year run in Boston definitely had its moments.
Right off the bat, he joined Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart as a member of Team USA at the 2019 FIBA World Cup. And while the Americans’ run in the tournament did not play out as expected, having four players on the roster was a big-time feather in the cap for the Celtics and their fans.
From there, he went on to lead Boston to the Eastern Conference Finals in his first season with the club. He did so by having an All-Star year, putting up 20.4 points, 4.8 assists and 3.9 rebounds per contest.
His best game in green came on December 11, 2019 against the Indiana Pacers when he scored 44 points on 16-of-28 shooting, hitting seven three-pointers and adding seven assists, three rebounds and two steals.
Unfortunately, a lingering knee injury limited him in some respects throughout his Celtics tenure. This season, he appeared in just 43 games for Boston and struggled to find his niche at times within the team’s offense. Still, he logged a respectable 19-5-4 line and hit 127 three-point shots.
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