With the Thunder sitting in a tie for 12th place in the Western Conference and four games back of the No. 8 seed, the team has reportedly decided to sit veteran forward Al Horford for the remainder of the season in order to get younger players more minutes, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
Horford, 34, plans to remain with the team for the rest of the year to train but won't appear in any of Oklahoma City's final 28 games.
A five-time All-Star, Horford has averaged 14.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists this season in 28 games (all starts), shooting 45.0% from the field. He signed a four-year deal with the 76ers ahead of the 2019-20 season, and was traded to the Thunder in December.
Horford has two additional years and $53 million remaining on his contract, and the Thunder will try to work out a trade this offseason. Wojnarowski reports that Horford is viewed as a leader on the Thunder's young team with a valued presence in the locker room, and the front office was eager to keep Horford involved in the organization as the two sides worked on a resolution.
Oklahoma City will be without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for the foreseeable future, as the young guard is dealing with plantar fasciitis. Shutting Horford down now will protect the veteran from injury and preserve his trade value this offseason. The Thunder own 34 draft picks—17 in the first round and 17 in the second—from now through the 2027 NBA draft.
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