Horford's reasons for staying in Boston are great sign for Celtics originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
What a difference three years makes.
In the summer of 2019, Al Horford declined the player option on the final year of his contract with the Boston Celtics and signed with their Eastern Conference rivals, the Philadelphia 76ers, because he wanted a better chance to win.
Fast forward to Dec. 1, 2022, when Horford signed a two-year, $20 million contract extension several months before becoming a free agent so he could stay in Boston -- for the same reason.
"For me, I really did want to be a part of what we have going here," Horford told reporters Friday at shootaround ahead of the Celtics' game against the Miami Heat at TD Garden. "I felt like me coming back here last year, I felt the strides of the group started to make and we've continued to make strides in the right direction."
Forsberg: Al Horford extension is another win for Brad Stevens
Horford reunited with the Celtics in July 2021 after Brad Stevens acquired him via trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The veteran big man exceeded expectations, averaging 10.2 points and 7.7 rebounds while playing nearly 30 minutes per night. He delivered several clutch performances in the postseason to help the Celtics reach the 2022 NBA Finals and was a great complement to Boston's young core.
That Finals run and the Celtics' red-hot start to the 2022-23 campaign seemingly convinced Horford there was no better spot for him to compete for a championship at age 36.
"More than anything, you want to be in a place where you have a chance to contend, to win," Horford said. "For me, it's more than basketball. Boston, I feel a real connection here with the people and with what the Celtics are about, and it's something that just really excited me.
"The fact that I get that opportunity and Brad believing in me and bringing me here, it's something that's special, and I'm really grateful for the opportunity."
Stevens kept the core of that 2021-22 team intact while adding a key piece in veteran guard Malcolm Brogdon. Like Brogdon, Horford has experienced plenty of highs and lows on other teams and values the continuity in Boston.
"I feel like there's a real purpose of trying to win and the group that we have is just a really good group," Horford said. " ... This type of stability, it's hard to find."
After Horford's extension, the Celtics' entire rotation with the exception of Grant Williams is under contract through at least 2024. Boston's combination of talent and financial security is rare in today's NBA, and it appears that played a key role in convincing Horford to re-up with the team rather than seek greener pastures in free agency next summer.