The Oklahoma City Thunder are shutting down center Al Horford for the remainder of the season.
The NBA trade deadline passed this Thursday, but none of the big-name centers was moved to a new team. Instead, Andre Drummond and LaMarcus Aldridge were bought out of their contracts by the Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs, respectively. Both centers were sidelined until an agreement was made. Now, there is another veteran set to be held out.
Sources told ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski that the Oklahoma City Thunder will no longer make veteran center Al Horford active for the remaining 28 games of the season, as they go with younger players in their lineup.
Thunder’s youth movement forces Al Horford to the bench
Even though Horford won’t be active for games this season, he will continue to workout at the team’s facility and mentor his teammates. Once the season is over, general manager Sam Presti will look to move Horford and the remaining two years and $53 million remaining on his contract.
Sitting Horford does make sense for the Thunder if they want to maintain his value without risking him picking up an injury as the regular season winds down. In fact, sources told Wojnarowski that guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander being ruled out indefinitely with plantar fasciitis made the Thunder reach their decision on sitting Horford earlier than expected. As always, you just know Presti would like to add even more draft picks to his arsenal, so keeping Horford healthy makes sense.
One year after signing a four-year, $109 million contract with the Philadelphia 76ers, Horford was sent to the Thunder along with Vasilije Micic and two draft picks in exchange for guard Danny Green. Horford started in 28 games for the Thunder, where he averaged 14.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game while shooting 45 percent from the field and 36.8 percent from the 3-point line.
The Thunder are embracing their youthful rebuild and will work with Horford at the end of the season to send him to a new team.