Elton Brand made a massive splash in free agency by stealing Al Horford from the rivaled Boston Celtics. 

Al Horford was rumored to have a “mystery suitor” in the weeks leading up to free agency; but no person knew for a fact what team it was. Reports came out that a NBA team promised him the likes of a 4-year/$100+ million dollar contract. 

It was soon found out that the Sixers, led by Elton Brand, were the team to offer the 33 year old big man the massive contract. 

Horford is still very effective; he was arguably the best Joel Embiid defender in the league with the Celtics. This contract, however, can end up being the biggest dream or nightmare scenarios in the NBA for the Sixers. So, will this signing pay off? What are the biggest positives/negatives that come along with it? What is the final verdict on the move? Let’s break it all down. 

The Dream

Al Horford is a proven NBA veteran and multi-time all-star. He has an excellent reputation around the NBA, and for good reason. He’s always been known as a good teammate, and he was a great system player with the Celtics. There is no doubt he will do whatever the Sixers require out of him on the court.

Horford is the model center to have on the floor while Joel Embiid rests, which is something the Sixers are putting a heavy emphasis on as the season approaches. The defense won’t fall off a cliff with the second unit, and Horford can be the perfect floor spacer to put next to Ben Simmons. 

An underrated aspect to acquiring Al Horford will simply be having him around the team. There were always issues and rumors regarding having Jimmy Butler around the likes of young stars’ Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Horford is the perfect “glue guy” to put along with the team, and he can be a major mentor for Embiid. 

The Sixers front office made an interesting decision when it came to Al Horford’s contract. The deal is partially guaranteed with $97 million of the original $109 million. There are bonuses in it for Horford to earn more money if the Sixers win a championship in the next four seasons. More importantly, the deal was structured to go down in salary as time goes on.

Here is how the deal is structured:

2019-2020 $28,000,000

2020-2021 $27,500,000

2021-2022 $27,000,000

2022-2023 $26,500,000

The Sixers decided to give up some cap flexibility this offseason to help ensure future cap space. While the contract is only going down in small increments, it does help the team with minor deals, as they can offer more money. It also will help the team out if they need to unload Horford in a future deal. 

Horford will also bring another defensive ability to the team. He did an amazing job limiting MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo throughout the season. The Bucks look like they will be a good team again, so having the likes of Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and Al Horford to limit the Greek Freak helps the team’s chances. 

The Nightmare

Like all NBA contracts, there is some form of risk when it comes to this deal. 

It took a good amount of money to lure Horford away from the Celtics. $109 million is a large number, especially for a 33 year old player. While Horford has aged pretty well with time, there were moments with the Celtics last season that father time seemed to be catching up with big Al. He did manage to miss some time in the regular season, mainly with a troublesome left knee. 

This four year deal offers a double edged sword to the Sixers. While giving a long term deal to Al Horford provides some stability to the core, it does limit flexibility in what they can do in free agency/trades going forward. 

There are some questions to how Al Horford will fit with the team going forward. The plan most people expect is that he will start at power forward alongside Joel Embiid and alternate minutes at the five as the game progresses. Horford is a very mobile big, but asking him to guard some athletic NBA forwards may be asking for a bit much.

The Verdict

Let me just say this first: man, is it weird that Al Horford is a Sixer. Who would’ve thought this two or three years ago? It’s pretty wild.

Like all signings, there are a fair share of positives and negatives. The positives far outweigh the negatives when it comes to Al Horford. He brings an incredible value to the team both on and off the court. Yes, the age and money factors do cause some worry, but the deal looks to be a really good signing for the team. 

While losing JJ Redick and Jimmy Butler hurt, Elton Brand did a solid job limiting the blow by bringing in Josh Richardson and Al Horford. There is not doubt that — along with other moves — the team got better defensively. 

I’m also sure that head coach Brett Brown is ecstatic about this signing. Horford is a perfect player for Brett Brown’s system of ball movement, pace, and floor spacing. Horford can be the veteran voice this team needs from a player perspective. 

The Eastern Conference is wide open with Kawhi Leonard bolting to Los Angeles. On paper, the Sixers are destined for a very successful NBA season; and Al Horford will be a major part behind it. The Horford signing will go down as a dream move for years to come.