Forsberg: How reported Kemba-Horford trade impacts Celtics originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Some quick-hit thoughts as we digest reports that the Boston Celtics have traded Kemba Walker, the No. 16 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, and a future second-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Al Horford and Moses Brown:
- Brad Stevens made a big splash with his first move as president of basketball operations. The Walker-to-Thunder possibility was a much-discussed possibility given the dual motivations (Boston trying to get off Walker’s money; the Thunders’ thirst for draft picks). But Stevens didn’t even wait for the summer to explore other possibilities, swallowed hard on the 16th pick, and made a move that gives the team considerable financial flexibility moving forward.
- Boston will save $9 million in salary between the contracts of Walker and Horford next season, easing tax concerns and opening a pathway to be a bit more aggressive in adding talent around this core. That would include the ability to be even more aggressive in re-signing unrestricted free agent Evan Fournier, Boston’s big-splash addition at the trade deadline.
- Horford’s 2022-23 salary is only partially guaranteed at $14.5 million. This gives Boston multiple pathways to adding a new third star alongside Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Boston can more easily move Horford’s deal this season given the partial guarantee next season, or the team potentially could stretch the final year of that deal and eat a manageable cap hit moving forward if it desires space next summer.
- Boston also pulls back Moses Brown, who had a monster game against the Celtics this season, going for 21 points and 23 rebounds in late March. That helped Brown earn a multi-year contract with the Thunder. The 7-foot-2 big man slots as a third or fourth center. He’s only 21 years old and is essentially your draft pick this year if the team is willing to nurture his development.
- Thus ends a unfulfilling two-year stint in Boston for Walker, who was an ideal teammate but battled knee issues for nearly the entire duration of his stay. The Celtics exercised extreme caution with Walker but he developed a bruise on the same balky knee and missed the end of Boston’s playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets.