With the Oklahoma City Thunder shifting their attention towards younger members of the roster, big man Al Horford will sit the remainder on the team’s regular-season games.
ESPN Senior Writer Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news Saturday evening.
Horford’s relegation to the inactives list aligns with the organizations ideologies rooting back to the begging of the season’s second-half of games. Veterans in Darius Miller, Mike Muscala, and at times Justin Jackson have seen their rotational minutes scrapped for younger, developmental prospects to suit their rebuild — now Horford adds to this list.
In terms of logicality — this move makes fits the bill, but it was a very bold one at that. With anti-tanking guidelines strengthened in 2017, Commissioner Adam Silver expected the move to eliminate healthy players sitting, but this move reads a fine line. Being 34-years-old, Horford is the oldest member of the Thunder roster, and with statlines of 14.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per night, his numbers reinstate he deserves playing time. On that same token though, the recent budding of two-way player Moses Brown and high expectations for the recently acquired Tony Bradley make minutes a tight squeeze — ultimately shorting Big Al.
The Thunder organization has been very transparent and cooperative with meeting Al Horford’s aspirations since being traded from the Philadelphia 76ers in the offseason.
“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. I also understand how important it is for the organization to give them that opportunity,” said Horford.
Horford will remain in Oklahoma City to practice with the team, but he will not travel for the Thunder’s remaining road games in this season.
Horford rests in the second season of a four-year, $109 million contract, and with Horford owed $53 million for his final two seasons — it is expected Oklahoma City will opt to keep his health intact before looking to move him in the offseason.
Mark Daigneault stated to the media Saturday that Horford’s shutdown had come earlier than expected with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s plantar fasciitis, but says Horford is still “very invested in this team… specifically these [young] players.”
Needless to say, this won’t be the last time you see Al Horford within the organization.