NBA

Sources: OKC to sit Horford for remaining games

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As the Oklahoma City Thunder turn to younger players in the nightly rotation, five-time All-Star center Al Horford will no longer will be active for games this season, sources told ESPN.

Horford, 34, plans to remain with his Oklahoma City teammates and train at the team facility, but he won’t play in the final 28 games for the Thunder, sources said.

Since arriving from Philadelphia in a draft night trade, Horford has been considered a significant presence and influence on the Thunder’s young, rebuilding roster, and the organization was eager for Horford to remain among them as the two sides worked through this decision, sources said.

After the season, Horford will have two years and $53 million left on his contract. Thunder general manager Sam Presti has pledged to work with Horford and his agent, Jason Glushon, on finding the center a trade to a team that fits better with this late stage of his career.

Sitting out protects Horford against injury that could complicate the ability to move him in the offseason. Horford has averaged 14.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists this season. After joining the 76ers on a four-year, $109 million free-agent deal in 2019, Horford was traded to the Thunder on draft night in 2020.

The Thunder recently lost star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for an extended period with plantar fasciitis. It was inevitable that Horford eventually would be shut down this season, but the loss of Gilgeous-Alexander expedited that timeline, sources said.

The Thunder could have three first-round picks in the 2021 NBA draft, based on a number of protection and pick-swap scenarios. The Thunder have been surprisingly competitive with such a young, unaccomplished roster, tied currently with the New Orleans Pelicans at 19-25.

Oklahoma City has 17 first-round and 17 second-round picks under control through the 2027 NBA draft.

This is Horford’s 14th NBA season, including stops with Atlanta, Boston and Philadelphia. He has averaged 13.9 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists for his career and twice has been an All-Defensive Team choice.

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