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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Boston Celtics send Kemba Walker to OKC for Al Horford

Boston Celtics send Kemba Walker to OKC for Al Horford

Boston brings back Horford in Walker deal
Publish Date: 06/18/2021
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster

President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens isn’t waiting to hire a head coach before beginning Boston’s reconstruction. Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Celtics are sending former All-Star point guard Kemba Walker, the 16th pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, and a 2025 second-rounder to Oklahoma City for Moses Brown, Al Horford, and a 2023 second-rounder.

The Celtics are trading Kemba Walker, the No. 16 overall pick in the 2021 draft and a 2025 second-round draft pick to Oklahoma City for Al Horford, Moses Brown and a 2023 second-round pick, sources tell ESPN.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 18, 2021

Rumors about a Walker trade began swirling when Brooklyn eliminated Boston from the first-round of the playoffs in five games. The 31-year-old point guard missed 45 regular season matchups during his two years with the Celtics. Walker earned his fourth consecutive All-Star selection in 2019, but the veteran point guard put together a disappointing 2020 campaign.

Walker missed Game 4 and Game 5 in the series against Kevin Durant’s Nets. He battled knee injuries throughout the season and discussed the issues after Game 5.

“It’s tough,” Walker said. “It’s been really tough, especially because over the course of my career, I’ve played so many games when I’ve been healthy.”

“I came to Boston to be a part of those special runs and be a part of high-intensity games and fans going wild, and I wasn’t able to be a part of that, unfortunately. Just try to get right. I got to get right.”

Walker signed a four-year extension worth roughly $140.79 million in the 2019 offseason as part of a sign-and-trade with the Celtics. Two years and over $73.6 million remain on that extension, including a player option for 2022. Horford has two years and $53.5 million remaining on a four-year deal he signed with Philadelphia in 2019.

Moving on from Walker gives the Celtics cap flexibility and increases the likelihood that they re-sign Evan Fournier. The former Orlando guard joined Boston as part of a mid-season trade this year. Fournier could play a significant role as Stevens builds his roster around Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.

The Celtics traded for Walker after a 2018 All-NBA campaign. The UConn product had three consecutive years with at least 22 points and five assists per game when he joined the Celtics but failed to match those averages in Boston. Walker also posted his lowest field goal percentages since 2014.

Horford spent his first nine NBA seasons in Atlanta before a successful three-year stint with the Celtics. While in Boston, Horford earned an All-Star bid and made consecutive Eastern Conference Finals appearances. He’s 35 years old but flashed a renewed three-point shot this season and remained impactful on defense.

Oklahoma City held Horford out after 28 games in 2020 as both sides agreed to keep his trade value intact for this offseason.

Brown has the potential to be a perfect addition to the Celtics. He’s a 21-year-old, 7-2 center that offers the height Boston desperately needs in an offseason pickup. Brown averaged 21.4 minutes, 8.6 points, and 8.9 rebounds per game during his 43 appearances with Oklahoma City.

As for the Thunder, their plan to rebuild around Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is well underway. General Manager Sam Presti holds three first-round picks in this year’s draft, two first-rounders in 2022, and up to four first-round selections in 2023. Depending on protections, Oklahoma City could have three first-round picks in 2024, 2025, and 2026 as well.

Sources told ESPN’s Tim Bontemps that Oklahoma City will work with Walker to find a suitable long-term landing spot for the star guard. The organization took similar approaches with Danny Green and Horford.

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