Despite their teams still in contention in the 2016 NBA Playoffs, some players—free agents to be after their season is over—are already part of the NBA rumors that speculate that they could leave their respective teams if they disappoint this postseason. One of these players is Atlanta Hawks forward/center Al Horford, who will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) this offseason.
Horford, who has been with the Hawks in all his eight years in the league, was actually part of the many NBA rumors during this season’s trade deadline back in February but the Hawks eventually decided to stick with him for the rest of the year.
One of the reliable veteran big men in the league, he has an expiring deal that pays him $12M this year and he’s looking for perhaps the last big contract in his career as he turns 30 years old later this year.
Horford is a great fit in Atlanta but if the Hawks fail to get to the NBA Finals again this season, it could be time for the team to look into another direction and perhaps get a younger big man to pair with Paul Millsap.
In four games so far in the 2016 NBA Playoffs, Horford is averaging 13.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 3.0 steals and 1.0 blocked shots—making him one of the most versatile big men in the league. With such gaudy numbers, teams are expected to chase him in free agency and stir up the NBA rumors this summer.
The Hawks can still re-sign Horford, but with his UFA status, other NBA teams with salary cap can choose to throw big money at the Dominican big man and lure him away from Atlanta.
The NBA is entering the most lucrative summer in its history with the new broadcast deal kicking in for the teams and the top teams with huge salary caps are the Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks and Washington Wizards, among many others.
Most of these teams are expected to try out their luck in acquiring Horford putting him in a whirlwind of NBA rumors before he actually signs his next lucrative contract. Horford is expected to demand a maximum contract at about $16 to $18 million per year.
Horford’s Hawks are currently tied at 2-2 with the Boston Celtics in their best-of-seven series. If the Hawks stumble out of the playoffs in the first round, or even in the second round, NBA rumors will most likely include Horford as one of the top free agents expected to leave his current team this summer.