Philadelphia 76ers: Al Horford’s contract is quickly becoming untradeable

Al Horford | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Al Horford | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia 76ers’ offseason prize has quickly turned sour.

When All-Star big man Al Horford signed with the Philadelphia 76ers this summer, the move was met with cautious optimism. Four years, $109 million was a steep price tag for a guy on the wrong side of 30, but 76ers fans had seen how effective Horford was on the Celtics. The 76ers were going to be huge. They’d overwhelm teams defensively with their size, and have enough shooting around Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid to make the offense work.

The move hasn’t been a total disaster. Yet.

The 76ers are 26-16, on pace to reach 50 wins in their third consecutive season. Their starting lineup has been good when healthy, but it would be a lie to say this season has left their fans satisfied. As of Jan. 16, they have a worse road record than the New Orleans Pelicans and the Sacramento Kings — who are 13th and 14th in the Western Conference, respectively.

Additionally, Horford has seemed displeased with his role offensively.

"“I’m out [there] for the team and doing what I can to help us,” Horford said. “But offensively, I’m very limited with the things that I can do. So I can’t control that stuff. So all I have to do is make sure I’m there for the team, trying to do everything I can to help us win.”"

Joel Embiid went down with an injury last week, opening the door for Horford’s offensive role to expand. Since Embiid went down, here is Horford’s stat line per game, via Basketball Reference.

  • 14.3 PTS
  • 7.5 REB
  • 5.5 AST
  • 42.3 FG%
  • 29.2 3P%

The 76ers are 2-2 in these games.

This is not a bad stat line. It’s also not a great stat line; he’s shooting poorly and settling for jumpers. This was a time for him to string together five great games in a row, proving to the world that his issues with the 76ers are strictly due to fit. This hasn’t happened.

Horford still has trade value. He’s a five-time All-Star who Elton Brand referred to as “one of the NBA’s best frontcourt players” over the summer.

But he’s 33. He’s proven this year he is not enough of a 3-point threat to fit next to a true big man like Joel Embiid. He can struggle to defend quick guards in space on switches. Most importantly, he’s owed $81 million over the next three seasons. He’s not worth that.

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The window of him still having trade value is closing, and waiting until the end of the season to deal him might see that window close.