The Oklahoma City Thunder is known for being one of the best cultures in the entire NBA under General Manager Sam Presti. Whoever comes through Oklahoma City, players have always been expected to be aware both on and off the court.
Last season, Chris Paul rewrote his statement with the Thunder. The Houston Rockets had to concede two first-round kicks and two select exchanges for Oklahoma City to take on his big contract in a swap for Russell Westbrook. At the time, Chis Paul was 34-years-old and had about $ 125 million to pay over the next three years of his contract.
In just one season in Oklahoma City, everything changed. Paul won All-NBA Second Team honors and led a young Thunder team that was not expected to be a postseason team all the way to a 44-28 record, good for fifth in Western Conference and a playoff appearance. His leadership and support were equally valuable to men like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who will go on to oppose the franchise.
Just one offseason after a major capital draft was tied to his contract for his move, Oklahoma City traded Paul to the Phoenix Suns for a big package that included a first-round pick in the future as a reward.
In the 2020-21 NBA season, Al Horford will have the same chance. Horford is also 34 years old and under contract for an additional three seasons worth $ 81 million. After a rough season in Philadelphia, the 76ers felt compelled to move on from Horford and his big contract as the fit man was not there.
While it is unlikely that Horford can lead the Thunder to a playoff appearance, there will be a similar opportunity to play in a bigger role both as a player and as a director. Outside of Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City traded off almost every other point player from last season, allowing Horford to carry a bigger burden than he does. in a few years.
In his first preseason game with the Thunder Wednesday night, Hordford finished with 15 points and 7 rebounds. In addition, his presence as an existing director was invaluable. After the game, Thunder double – sided player Moses Brown talked about why it ‘s so important to have veterans like Horford around, especially with the number of young players on the roster.
“Definitely trying to pick his brain as a young player. I’m trying to get his perspective and perspective. This is something that will benefit me in my career. ”
It is not yet clear how long Horford will be a member of the Thunder. If it has a good start to the season, there is no question that it could be in high demand at the trade date. If not, it may appeal to teams for the next offseason with another year off from his current contract.
Nonetheless, while a member of the Thunder, Al Horford will have exceptional experience in playing a key role on a rebuilding team both on and off the court. When all is said and done, Horford’s time in Oklahoma City could be a pivotal point in his career.