Market for Horford is real, Thunder reportedly clearing space for him

The problem with the days leading up to NBA free agency is separating fact from fiction -- because there tends to be far more fiction, planted by agents, rival general managers or the always popular "well-placed source high up in the organization."

But this much is clear when it comes to the Hawks: Al Horford is in demand. We can debate whether a player who didn't come up big in the playoffs is worth a five-year contract or max money. But remember, contracts aren't about a player's perceived worth, it's about what the market will bear. I believe they call that supply and demand.

So now comes this: Oklahoma City, in an effort to take the next step and please Kevin Durant, reportedly is going to go all out to sign Horford. This report comes from ESPN's Brian Windhorst. An excerpt:

As they prepare to make their pitch to Kevin Durant, the Oklahoma City Thunder have been making calls around the league looking to clear a massive amount of salary-cap space in a move rival executives believe is an effort to go after free agent Al Horford in addition to Durant, multiple sources told ESPN.

Horford played for Thunder coach Billy Donovan at Florida, where they teamed up to win two national titles, and they remain close. The Thunder have an opening at power forward after trading Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic last week.

I still believe the Hawks will re-sign Horford. I believe they need to re-sign Horford, something I will get into a full column later on . But the latest report, presumably accurate, is mere reaffirmation that the market for the four-time All-Star is real.

It has long been believed that at least a dozen teams, including Oklahoma City and Boston, would be willing to give the center-power forward max money, or at least close to it. The Thunder makes sense on many levels: The team recently traded power forward Serge Ibaka to Orlando; it believes it's close to winning a championship; it's trying to keep Kevin Durant from leaving; Horford played for OKC coach Billy Donovan at Florida; Horford is really good, a leader and would be a solid addition in the locker room.

There are times when local sports fans don't appreciate what they have in a player until he leaves for another team. That's not to say Horford doesn't need to get better, particularly in crunch time and playoff games. But he's going to get a major deal and possibly max money somewhere and I find it hard to believe the Hawks could make up for his loss with trades and signings if he leaves.

UPDATE: Here's a link to the full column.

Recent ramblings from the Digital Jukebox

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

About the Author

Jeff Schultz
Jeff Schultz
Jeff Schultz is a general sports columnist and blogger who isn't afraid to share his opinion, which may not necessarily jibe with yours.