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NBA Free Agency: Wizards, Celtics, and Hawks in the running for Al Horford, according to report

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Boston Celtics v Atlanta Hawks - Game Two Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

UPDATE #2: Looks like the Hawks might still be in the running to get Horford, according to Adrian Wojnarowski:

The challenge of course, is that they would have to clear some salary to have enough room to bring Horford back. Trading Paul Millsap is an option, but as Peachtree Hoops notes, it isn’t the only option:

Not gonna lie, at this point it feels like Horford is holding out for the Hawks to give him a five-year max (something only Atlanta can offer) or something close to it, but we’ll see how it shakes out in the coming hours.

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UPDATE: Washington and Boston are reportedly the frontrunners to land Al Horford, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical:

The Boston Celtics and Washington Wizardshave emerged as the frontrunners to sign free-agent big man Al Horford, and a final decision is expected Saturday night, league sources told The Vertical.

Horford could sign a four-year, $113 million maximum contract to leave the Atlanta Hawks.

Horford, 30, pared down the teams on Saturday morning, league sources said.

Now things get interesting. Boston has more assets and arguably more depth, but Washington has the best overall player (John Wall) on either roster and more playoff-ready experience. The original post is below.

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Just when it looked like the Wizards were sitting on their hands during the first day of free agency, we got a bit of a bombshell:

Earlier in the week, Marc Stein of ESPN reported the Wizards were interested in Horford, but this is the first we’ve heard that they got a chance to meet with him. It’s encouraging to hear the Wizards are still in the running for probably the second-best free agent left on the market.

How Horford would fit on the Wizards

How Horford would fit on the Wizards

What helps the Wizards’ chances even more is that they may not have to compete with the Hawks, the only team who could have offered him a five-year deal, for his services. After signing Dwight Howard and Kent Bazemore, there simply isn’t enough money left for the Hawks to bring Horford back at the moment, though Brian Windhorst is reporting they’re trying to explore trades to offload salary.

It’s hard to know where exactly the Wizards stand in the race without knowing all the competitors, but even the one that is listed should be concerning. Houston has a lot of nice perks to offer Horford, including James Harden, no state taxes, and an exciting up-tempo coach to play under in Mike D’Antoni.

It certainly won’t be easy, but getting into the final four is encouraging, explains a lot about why Washington has been quiet in free agency so far, and shows what Plan B for missing out on Kevin Durant was.