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Thunder deal Al Horford, Moses Brown to Celtics for Kemba Walker, pick no. 16

When Oklahoma City originally acquired Al Horford in November of last year, the common consensus was Sam Presti had dead weight — hope was futile in repackaging the bigman. Those doubts were cast away early Friday morning as Al Horford is returning to Beantown.

Per ESPN Senior Writer Adrian Wojnarowski, Oklahoma City will ship Al Horford, Moses Brown, and a 2023 second-round pick to Boston in exchange for Kemba Walker, the No. 16 pick in the draft, and a 2025 second-round pick.

Oklahoma City will have a selection between Boston or Memphis’ second-round pick in 2023 while Boston will receive the worst of Oklahoma City’s three second-round picks in 2025.

For Oklahoma City, this move has been a long time coming. As aforementioned, when Sam Presti took on Al Horford from Philadelphia last season, the expectation was the then 34-year-old would become a stalemate on the roster. Horford’s remaining 3 year, $81 million contract was grouped amongst the worst in the league entering the 2020-21 season — but he made the most out of his role.

In his tenure with Oklahoma City, Horford placed averages of 14.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 3.4 assists while shooting 36.4-percent from distance in 25 appearances. This beam of light led to a mutual agreement in mid-March for Horford to sit out the remainder of the regular-season.

Horford will give Boston cap flexibility as he’ll be partially guaranteed for $14 million in his last season, meaning he’s owed $54 million in full, or $41 million if waived after next season.

Moses Brown’s addition to this deal gives Boston frontcourt flexibility, and a young prospect despite no first-round pick this season. Brown is a bouncy 21-year-old who climbed the NBA ladder from a two-way contract this past season. After posting averages of 18.5 points and 13.9 rebounds in 13 games with the Oklahoma City Blue the Thunder’s G-League affiliate, he received G-League First-Team honors — and a call-up to the NBA. Brown struck starting status in his implementation to Oklahoma City’s roster starting in 32 of his 43 appearances averaging 8.6 points, and 8.9 rebounds in 21.4 minutes.

Brown’s nimbleness coupled with his frame made him prone to hoard big outputs in short durations this past season, including a 21 point, 23 rebound performance against the Celtics. Brown has his game down salvaging rebounds and flushes, but he’s still raw both as a shooter and defender off screens.

Currently, Brown is on a non-guaranteed three-year contract which will net the big man $5.53 million at its peak.

With this being Brad Stevens’ first move manning the Celtics’ basketball operations, his efforts to make a win-now move have aided Sam Presti’s cycle of taking in assets, replenishing value, and reaping rewards of prior moves.

The addition of Kemba Walker very much mirrors Horford’s acquisition from last season. Walker had become a negative asset around Boston’s organization, as with a monstrous $107.9 million remaining over the next three seasons added with a budding core of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum — he was the odd man out.

Walker averaged 19.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 4.9 assists in his 43 appearances with the franchise.

Walker’s role in the Thunder organization is murky as it stands. Walker has been an undisputed starter since his sophomore season with the Charlotte Bobcats, and rejuvenating any trade value would need minutes. Walker could be rerouted before the initiation of next season, but until now, seeing the 31-year-old progress through a strict resting pattern to limit injury may be his best option.

Oklahoma City’s treasure trove of first-round picks richened with this past deal as they now cherish 18 first-round picks until 2027 and three first-round selections in the upcoming draft.

The Thunder will now hold five top-36 selections in the upcoming draft including two potential picks that may convey in the top 5 (Oklahoma City will select at pick no. 18 if Houston’s pick does not land at 5.) This new draft addition will provide Sam Presti another dice roll in the franchise’s rebuild.

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