The 35-year-old big guy went out and averaged 10.2 points and 7.7 rebounds over 29.1 minutes in the regular season. Then he pumped it up to 12.0 points and 9.3 rebounds in 35.4 minutes in the playoffs.

Even leaving out the great effect the man had on his team’s defense and general offensive flow, there were a number of NBA people who were surprised at Al Horford’s production for the Celtics.

Sam Presti wasn’t one of those people.

The Oklahoma City general manager had essentially put Horford on a shelf for the last two months of the 2020-21 season as the Thunder kicked its reconstruction project into a new gear. There was a need to look at players who had a chance to be there when again the club hoped to be playing for something meaningful.

That Presti moved Horford to a Celtic situation befitting a player needing a shot at a championship in the latter stages of his career was a hoped-for bonus. (And with Rob Williams requiring another knee surgery ahead of this season, the Celts need Al even more.)

“Well, I couldn’t be more happy for him — both professionally and personally,” Presti told Heavy Sports. “He’s one of the true pros that I’ve come across in the time that I’ve done this.”

Pro enough to start and play a key role in the Celts’ run to the Finals. Pro enough to step up his execution from 46.7% shooting (33.6% on 3-pointers) to 52.3% and 48.0%, in the regular season and playoffs, respectively. Pro enough to maintain the middle and help Williams realize more of his potential.

“I’m not surprised that he was able to contribute the way that he did,” Presti said of Horford. “I think it was a great thing and a credit to Brad (Stevens, Celtic head of basketball ops) and his staff that they recognized how he could help them in the ways that he did. I’m happy for him, and I think he’ll continue to be a big part of that team going forward.

“I didn’t watch all the games, but when I did, the things that he was doing were similar to things that he was doing for our team. Just, obviously, Boston’s in a much different stage in their development and timeline and are well past the stage that we’re in. And I think that him being in …read more



Al Horford’s Ex-Boss Sounds off on Big Trade, Role With Celtics

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