2. Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers entered this past season with low expectations. Danilo Gallinari had been hurt (again), there was no clear star on the team and it was a collection of youth and castoffs. They were expected to maybe secure the 8-seed.
They ended up finishing the regular season as the eighth seed… with a 48-34 record, two games back of the fifth-seeded Utah Jazz. Not bad for a team that traded its leading scorer midway through the season and was just five games above .500 at the time.
Some of the best statistics of the season came in the playoffs, one game in particular:
The Clippers’ leading scorer after the Tobias Harris trade was perennial Sixth Man of the Year candidate Lou Williams. Adding Al Horford wouldn’t solve the Clippers’ need for a few more scorers, but he would certainly help improve their bottom-five ranked defense.
Head coach Doc Rivers has never directly coached Horford, nor was he there when Horford donned the green and white, but he understands the Celtics’ philosophies and what it takes to build a championship team. He could instantly turn to Horford for continued veteran leadership, especially since it seems like it’s not a foregone conclusion that Patrick Beverley (although well-liked by the Clippers fans, organization and teammates) is coming back.
Horford would also provide an insurance policy against the oft-injured Gallinari and a mentor for Ivica Zubac (assuming they re-sign the young big man). With the potential to open up about $56 million in cap space, a chunk of that could certainly go to Al Horford; especially if they strike out on the top free agents like Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson or Kawhi Leonard. If they sign Kawhi though, that further incentivizes the idea of a Horford signing:
It just makes sense.