Wizards Lose Horford in Final Minutes Before Celtics Choice

WASHINGTON — By all accounts, the Wizards came remarkably close to signing Al Horford on Saturday.

Horford, one of the top free agents of the summer and the biggest non-Kevin Durant target for Washington, ultimately chose the Boston Celtics, signing a four-year, $113 million deal Saturday evening. But before his decision was made, Horford reportedly came down to the Wizards, Celtics and his previous team, the Atlanta Hawks, who made a late run to retain him.

Here’s how it went down, via The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

There might not be such a thing as a moral victory, it has to feel good for the Wizards that a high-end talent like Horford was sincerely considering putting the remainder of his peak years in the hands of the Washington coaches and front office.

Horford was reportedly impressed by the young core the Wizards have assembled β€” namely John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Markieff Morris and Kelly Oubre β€” and he was especially pleased that all of those players are under contract for the immediate future.

Ultimately, it wasn’t enough to sway the 6-foot-10 Horford, who will join a somewhat similar team in Boston β€” that is, one with myriad young players with high upside and moderate success thus far.

The Wizards quickly responded by signing center Ian Mahinmi to a four-year, $64 million deal. Mahinmi improves the depth and quality of the frontcourt, like Horford would have, but the two are vastly different players of nearly opposite styles of play and considerably disparate skill levels. Barring a move of Marcin Gortat, it would appear as though Mahinmi will come off the bench, which is not ideal value for a player making $16 million annually, even with the dramatic rise in salary cap.

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