Last year, the 76ers brought in Al Horford which seemed like a smart move at the time. Horford had great leadership and that would be helpful for the young players on the roster. He was also one of the players that Embiid struggled against. Elton Brand gave Horford a 4 year, $109,000,000 that included $97,000,000 guaranteed and an annual salary of $27,250,000; an enormous payday for Al to say the least. Then came the 2019-2020 NBA season, and it was obvious that Horford was not the right fit alongside Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Horford’s shooting percentages were down big time: his field goal percentage went from 53.5% to 45%, three point percentage from 36% to 35%, and free throw percentage from 82.1% to 76.3%. Spacing was, and still is, an issue when Horford is on the court with Embiid and Simmons. Although he fits better off the bench, Horford was not producing nearly as much as his contract expected of him. Horford is not “washed”, but he definitely does not fit on this team, and his contract does not help his case. He can still be a productive piece for a contender. Let’s take a look at some mock trades that could help the 76ers get rid of Horford’s massive contract.
Trade 1: 76ers Receive Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, Richaun Holmes | Kings Receive Al Horford, Josh Richardson, Zhaire Smith
There have been many rumors revolving around a trade package that would send Buddy Hield to the 76ers and Al Horford to the Kings since early last season. The Kings had some interest in Horford when he hit free agency last season, but the Sixers got to him first. Hield is unhappy in Sacramento, reportedly ‘soured’ on Luke Walton, and didn’t even answer any of his calls. The Kings were very close to making the playoffs last season, and they might just think that Horford could get them there. In this mock trade, the Sixers will be acquiring Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, and Richaun Holmes and sending Al Horford, Josh Richardson, and Zhaire Smith. Sacramento could still be interested in bringing in Horford even if it means sacrificing Holmes, as Horford can be a mentor to Bagley. Richardson is an incredible player on an ideal contract, and it would help if the Sixers are able to keep him. The problem is that it would be tough to convince the Kings to do a trade revolving around their young sharpshooter without getting another capable wing player in return. Richardson isn’t going to bring the offensive firepower Hield posesses, but he’s a well-rounded player who can make plays on both sides of the ball. Richardson may not be enough which is why the Sixers might have to throw in Zhaire Smith. Smith, the former 16th overall pick, just hasn’t found his footing in Philadelphia, and a change of scenery might help. The 76ers would have to take on Harrison Barnes and Richaun Holmes’ contracts to make the financials work.
Trade 2: 76ers Receive Eric Gordon, Robert Covington | Rockets Receive Al Horford, 2nd Round Pick
This trade has the 76ers bringing back another familiar face in Robert Covington. They would also get Eric Gordon. Rockets would get Al Horford and a 2nd round pick. Rockets have been small ball for a while now, and they were good, but weren’t good enough. The outcome was Mike D’Antoni being fired. It seems like the Rockets are ready for a more rounded roster. Al Horford could be the first piece. He would be the defensive presence Houston’s looking for. Horford would also work better in a system in which he doesn’t have to work as a stretch forward. The 76ers would be getting a shooter in Eric Gordon and a good rotational piece with Covington. However, Rockets would be giving up a lot, so the Sixers would have to throw in a pick to make Morey interested. Push comes to shove, the Sixers could have to convert that into a first round pick.
Trade 3: 76ers Receive Chris Paul | Thunder Receive Al Horford, Shake Milton, Zhaire Smith
In this trade, the Thunder and 76ers will be exchanging 2 large contracts. Sixers would give Horford, Shake Milton, and Zhaire Smith and get Chris Paul in return. It seems like the Thunder are looking to get younger and build around their young piece in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Although they’re not getting younger with Horford, Thunder’s getting a talented guard in Shake Milton. They’re also getting Zhaire Smith, another young piece that can be developed. From the other side, Sixers would be getting Chris Paul, a guard who can play off-ball which would benefit Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. If he’s found in the right spot, Paul could knock down the shot. He could be a very good fit alongside Embiid and Simmons. This trade would benefit both the 76ers and Thunder in what they’re trying to do.
Trade 4: 76ers Receive CJ McCollum | Trail Blazers Receive Al Horford, Shake Milton
There were rumors last season revolving around a trade package that would send Al Horford to the Trail Blazers and CJ McCollum to the 76ers. A trade like this might just be considered in the offseason. McCollum is getting up there in age (29) and he’s getting paid a lot of money. CJ did put up pretty good numbers but it really all depends on if the Blazers are still looking to compete and contend like they were, especially in such a loaded conference (Lakers, Clippers, Warriors, Rockets, Nuggets for example). Portland might consider trading McCollum while he still has value. In this trade, they aren’t getting younger by any means if they’re bringing Al Horford but Shake Milton might just convince them. He would be going to the Blazers and could learn and grow under Damian Lilard. With this trade, assuming Portland resigns Carmelo Anthony, he would be going to the bench. The starting lineup would look like Damian Lilard, Gerry Trent Jr., Nassir Little, Al Horford, and Whiteside/Nurkic. Stotts could also move Horford to the bench and start Anthony for floor spacing. This trade would still help the Blazers compete and potentially find their long-term option at point guard. On the other side of this deal, the 76ers would be bringing in a phenomenal player in CJ McCollum. The only problem is that McCollum would have to run point guard for the Sixers which wouldn’t be ideal. To fix this problem, Philly could go out and resign Alec Burks. This would make the starting lineup look like this: Alec Burks at PG, McCollum at SG, Tobias Harris at SF, Ben Simmons at PF, and Joel Embiid at C. Alec Burks and McCollum would be an excellent backcourt when we need buckets, and playing Simmons off-ball would really help floor spacing. Embiid would also have the paint all to himself which always works out for us. Also, the Trail Blazers could ask for a draft pick if they’re giving up such a valuable player. There would have to be some convincing and hoping for both front offices but nothing’s too out of reach.
Trade 5: 76ers Receive Kyle Lowry | Raptors Receive Al Horford, Shake Milton
This is another trade in which the Sixers would be giving up both Al Horford and Shake Milton for just one player who’s older and on a large contract – this time it will be Kyle Lowry. Lowry (34) is significantly older than McCollum (29) whom we discussed earlier. This trade would only be considered if the Raptors are determined to get younger. They would get Al Horford, who again, is not necessarily younger than Lowry, but he would be a mentor to Siakam and provide veteran leadership in a relatively young locker room. He would also fill the hole that Marc Gasol left at the center position. Milton would fit nicely alongside Fred Vanvleet (that is, if they choose to pay him, which they should) because he can play off-ball. Shake could also end up being the backup point guard if Toronto chooses to start Normal Powell over Milton. This seems like a very good trade for the Raptors. Now let’s look at how this could play out for the 76ers. Philadelphia would be getting Kyle Lowry, who is already 34 years old. He would become the primary point guard and this would move Ben Simmons to the power forward position. The starting lineup would be Kyle Lowry, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris, Ben Simmons, and Embiid. The spacing would be better than before and Lowry could be the closer the Sixers are looking for. This trade would be contingent on Sixers front office believing it’s worth moving Horford’s contract for a similar contract with Kyle Lowry and giving up their young guard.
These were 5 mock trades to get Horford’s large contract off the Sixers’ hands! Thanks for reading!