Al Horford (left) could be wearing Celtics green shortly. (Dale Zanine/USA Today Sports)
NBA free agency has officially gone crazy. Here’s where things stand in relation to the Celtics as the Fourth of July weekend kicks off:
— According to the Boston Herald, the Celtics met with free agent center Al Horford on Friday and were prepared to offer him a max contract of four years and $113 million. Horford also met with the Wizards and Rockets.
He’s very much available at the moment because the Hawks signed center Dwight Howard to a three-year, $70.5 million deal, though NBA guru Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo reported that Atlanta hadn’t closed the door on retaining Horford.
That seems unlikely, since the Hawks also agreed to a $70 million extension with Kent Bazemore. At the very least, Atlanta would have to reshuffle the roster to make room for a max Horford deal.
— Things with Horford get even more interesting, because according to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders, the Celtics were hoping to sign Horford in time to bring him to Saturday’s meeting with free agent superstar Kevin Durant.
Horford and Durant are close friends, and the Celtics believe that one could help them land the other, even if it ends up being next offseason, when Durant is expected to jump back into free agency if he doesn’t sign a long-term deal this week.
— Speaking of Durant, multiple reports said he was “blown away” by the Clippers on Friday during a meeting in the Hamptons with owner Steve Ballmer, head coach Doc Rivers, and stars Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, among others.
In Los Angeles, Durant would join a top-heavy group of stars that also includes vacationing point guard Chris Paul, but with almost no supporting cast to speak of. The Celtics, by contrast, offer a deeper roster with more financial flexibility to improve.
Durant also met with the Warriors on Friday, incidentally. He is expected to meet with the Spurs and C’s on Saturday and the Heat on Sunday before circling back to the Thunder and making a decision next week.
— Elsewhere around the league, contracts continue to spiral upward, backed by $24 billion in TV money that will be flooding ownership’s coffers over the next nine years.
Memphis point guard Mike Conley, a nice player who has never sniffed an All-Star team, became the highest-paid player in NBA history when he signed a five-year, $153 million deal to remain with the Grizzlies. Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan signed a $139 million deal that made him the second-highest paid player. The Pistons gave Andre Drummond $130 million. And so on.
— One of the beneficiaries of this largesse? Former Celtics guard Evan Turner, who signed a four-year, $70 million deal with the Trail Blazers and will join their starting lineup. Turner thanked Celtics fans and the organization for two great seasons that resurrected his career.