Now that the trade deadline has passed, the Oklahoma City Thunder will look to start building out their rotation for the remainder of the season. As they continue to prioritize playing their young guys and developing them for the future, Al Horford will sit out the remainder of the season in a mutual decision between him and the team.
As first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Horford will officially no longer be active for the team this season with 28 games remaining. However, he will continue to remain with his Oklahoma City teammates and train at the team’s facility. In a team press release, Horford made a statement on this decision.
“When I arrived, I understood the direction of the team, we had a great individual plan in place for me, and I feel like as a result I’ve played really good basketball for the Thunder. At the same time, I know what it’s like to be a young, aspiring player, and at this point in the season I understand how important playing meaningful minutes is for their careers and their development.” said Horford. “I’m looking forward to supporting the guys who supported me, watching them continue to play the right way and play together as we have throughout the season, while still being around the team and continuing my training.”
Horford has been great this season, being more productive than he had been in the previous couple of seasons, averaging 14.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists on 36.8 percent from deep. He was a key piece in the locker room and an influential leader to all of the young players the Thunder are looking to groom as they rebuild.
After the season, Horford will have two years left on his current contract worth roughly $53 million. Wojnarowski reported that Thunder general manager Sam Presti has pledged to work with Horford and his agent, Jason Glushon, on finding a trade to a team that fits better with this late stage of his career. Sitting him out ensures that Horford stays healthy and is ready to go when a potential trade occurs this upcoming offseason.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will likely have more space than nearly any NBA team this summer, with a Horford deal only potentially increasing how much money they will have to spend. With Horford out, expect Moses Brown, Isaiah Roby, and newly-acquired Tony Bradley to see an increase in minutes.
It appears that Al Horford’s career as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder has come to an end.