Al Horford celebrates with Sixers

Should the Detroit Pistons take Al Horford’s contract?

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Heading for a deep, lengthy rebuild, the Detroit Pistons should be focusing on asset accumulation this offseason. A trade for unwanted Sixers centre Al Horford could be a way to add draft capital.

Detroit should be looking to use their cap space to absorb ugly contracts. Horford, an atrocious fit next to Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, will be on the move this offseason. Daryl Morey will prioritise getting rid of Horford, and should be willing to attach a pick or two to do so.

The Sixers, with Doc Rivers on the bench and Morey controlling the front office, remain ambitious. The Embiid and Simmons core is set to remain intact for at least one more season. Philly has the picks to incentivise a team like Detroit to take Horford – they have the 21st, 34th, 36th, 49th and 58th picks in the upcoming draft. Morey has all of their future picks to play with.

The Pistons have the cap space to swallow Horford’s contract ($27 million for each of the next two seasons, $14.5 million guaranteed in 2022/23), but they’ll obviously want a pick or two to do so. Deep into the tax, the Sixers do not gain extra financial flexibility by dumping Horford, and league rules mean they must get something in return. Morey will be angling to get a meaningful piece, and the Pistons have a couple of players who could help Philly.

Potential Horford trade

Luke Kennard is Detroit’s best trade asset. He’s a great fit on the Sixers. Kennard shot a shade under 40% from three last season on over six attempts per game – he can play make a bit too, registering over four assists per contest in 2019/20.


Derrick Rose is at the centre of trade rumours this offseason. His $7.7 million expiring contract catches the eye of executives around the NBA. Rose isn’t as nice a fit with Simmons and Embiid – he’s still a subpar three-point shooter, but he’d bring much needed ball handling on the perimeter.

Kennard is the player Morey would focus on. A Horford for Kennard trade swallows up a lot of Detroit’s cap space, though. Maybe the Pistons would want to send Tony Snell to the Sixers too, leaving them with nearly $29 million in cap space. Snell can shoot it – he’d be a useful bench player for a thin Sixers roster.

Acquiring draft picks

This is a draft expected to be deep with NBA talent. Detroit could acquire three solid players with the 21st, 34th and 36th picks – would that be enough to take Horford and lose Kennard? Maybe not. Maybe the Sixers attach a lottery protected future first, maybe the Pistons refuse to let go of Kennard.

A potential Blake Griffin trade is not going to land anything significant. The Pistons must be willing to take on bad contracts this offseason, and few teams will be as desperate to dump a player as the Sixers are with Horford. Morey will inevitably be aggressive, too. How much can Detroit get out of Philly?

There are only a handful of teams with space this offseason. The Pistons can use that to their advantage if the Sixers come calling and help to kick start their rebuild. The inclusion Kennard could be the sticking point, but Troy Weaver should seriously consider it. It’s no guarantee that Kennard will be on the next competitive Pistons team. Horford’s still a useful player too, and he’s a good locker room presence for the young guys they’ll be bringing through.


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