Just a year after signing a four-year $109 million deal with the Philadelphia 76ers in free agency, Al Horford’s time in the city of Brotherly Love is over. I doubt there was much brotherly love left there for Al anyway.
Horford’s contract is so awful that new Sixers president of basketball ops Daryl Morey had to package him with the 34th pick in the 2020 draft and a future first-rounder just for the Oklahoma City Thunder to give up Danny Green and Terrance Ferguson, sources told ESPN.
Later on draft night, Morey also dealt Josh Richardson (another failed acquisition from last offseason) and the two years and $20 million+ left on his contract with the 36th pick of the draft to the Dallas Mavericks for sharpshooter Seth Curry, according to ESPN.
In his first couple of moves at the helm in Philly, Morey was able to unload two ugly contracts for players who didn’t fit in with the core stars, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, while replacing them with cheap alternatives that fit much better with their two young phenoms. Curry, who’s father-in-law, Doc Rivers, was just recently hired as the new head coach in Philly, put up 12.4 points per game on 50 percent shooting from the field and 45 from deep last season.
Curry’s marksmanship from deep is exactly what the Sixers need to space the floor out with Simmons and Embiid dominating the paint, and it’s probably the same reason they also acquired Green. Green is on a streak of NBA titles that Philly surely hopes will continue: he won in 2019 with the Raptors, and again last season with the Lakers.
As a career 40 percent shooter from beyond the arc, Green—who was traded twice in one week, going from the Lakers to the Thunder to the Sixers in a matter of a couple days—will also be a deep threat that team’s will need to space out and respect on defense.
Rangy swing guard Ferguson is also headed to Philly, where his defensive prowess will definitely be welcome whether he cracks the starting lineup or not. Some may see the big names and picks leaving Philadelphia and frown, but Morey has opened up a significant $25 million chunk of their salary cup while also adding key pieces to the team in the process. I wouldn’t be surprised if Philly’s +3000 odds to win it all next season on 888sport saw a big drop after these savvy moves.
The Mavericks surely came away smiling, as they picked up an extra draft pick and a high-quality player in Richardson that just had a bad season in a toxic situation last year. Richardson’s defensive prowess can also make up for new teammate Luka Doncic’s ineptitude in that part of the game. Richardson put up 13.7 points per game on 43 percent shooting from the field last year with the Sixers.
Horford, who was brought into Philly last year to pair with Embiid, simply did not fit in with Philly’s star players, eventually getting bumped from the starting lineup by second-year guard Shake Milton down the stretch. The 34-year-old put up 11.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game last season and he could be on the move again soon.
Though it would be nearly impossible to move Horford’s contract again, you can bet that this old, expensive wash-up is not part of OKC general manager Sam Presti’s master plan for the Thunder rebuild, which seems focused almost solely on stacking draft picks: including those he used in yesterday’s draft, Presti’s got 17 draft picks from 2020 to 2026.
Presti has been showing his negotiating prowess ever since the league season officially began last weekend, putting together three separate trades, each of which brought a new first-round pick to the franchise. The Thunder won’t be contenders in the next couple of years, but come the mid ‘20s, they are going to be a force to be reckoned with. Too bad there aren’t any future bets for that, huh.