Sam Presti has once more flipped a veteran player for more trade assets, sending Al Horford back to Boston for Kemba Walker and the Celtics’ 2021 first round pick (#16). The teams are also exchanging Moses Brown and second rounders as part of the deal.
Horford, 35, arrived in Oklahoma City as part of a flurry of activity last offseason. He was OKC’s second-best player (14.2 pts, 6.7 rbs, 3.4 assists on .450/.368/.818 splits) as they carefully managed his playing time before mutually agreeing to sit the stretch big for good after the trade deadline. Brown was a raw sophomore when signing with the Thunder for his sophomore season on a two-way deal, which was eventually converted to a standard multi-year contract as the center used his size and ability to rack up gaudy rebounding numbers.
The shutdown to protect Horford’s health was done with a move like this was in mind for both the player (returning to a playoff contender) and team (fetching even more assets for the future). This return doesn’t match the haul that Presti brought back for Chris Paul after that veteran’s trade rehabilitation in Thunder blue the season prior, but it is still a heftier package than was thought possible just a year ago. The Thunder now own three first rounders in the upcoming draft: their own, Boston’s, and either Houston’s or Miami’s depending on next week’s lottery results.
Walker was a big signing for the Celtics during the 2019 offseason that saw Kyrie Irving and Terry Rozier leave Boston. He was a productive fan favorite as a Celtic, but injuries have drastically limited his impact the last two postseasons. Whether he will be on Oklahoma City’s roster for the 2021-22 season is unknown, but Presti’s commitment to extracting maximum value and Walker’s burdensome contract (two years and $73.7MM remaining) would suggest he could become yet another extended rental.