As the Oklahoma City Thunder draw on younger players in the night rotation, five-time All-Star center Al Horford will no longer be active for games this season, sources told ESPN.
Horford, 34, plans to stay with his Oklahoma City teammates and train at the team’s facilities, but will not play in the last 28 games for the Thunder, sources said.
Since arriving from Philadelphia on a late-night draft trade, Horford has been considered a significant presence and influence on the Thunder’s young and rebuilding roster, and the organization was eager for Horford to remain with them while the two sides worked on this decision. sources said.
After the season, Horford will have two years and $ 53 million left on his contract. Thunder general manager Sam Presti has vowed to work with Horford and his agent, Jason Glushon, to find the center a trade with a team better suited to this later stage of his career.
Failure to participate protects Horford from injury that could complicate the possibility of moving him in the offseason. Horford has averaged 14.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists this season. After joining the 76ers on a four-year, $ 109 million free agent contract in 2019, Horford was traded to the Thunder on draft night in 2020.
The Thunder recently lost star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for an extended period with plantar fasciitis. It was inevitable that Horford would eventually be shut down this season, but the loss of Gilgeous-Alexander sped up that timeline, sources said.
The Thunder could have three first-round picks in the 2021 NBA draft, based on a series of protection and pick-swapping scenarios. The Thunder have been surprisingly competitive with such a young and incomplete roster, currently tied with the New Orleans Pelicans at 19-25.
Oklahoma City has 17 first-round picks and 17 second-round picks under control through the 2027 NBA draft.
This is Horford’s fourteenth NBA season, which includes stops in Atlanta, Boston and Philadelphia. He has averaged 13.9 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists in his career and has twice been a Defensive Team option.