Last summer, when the Philadelphia 76ers inked veteran big man Al Horford to a four-year deal, the move garnered tons of criticism. Not because many believed Horford wasn't talented. Mainly because it seemed like a pricey offer to an aging veteran who plays the same position as the team's best player, Joel Embiid.
The Sixers' front office banked on the idea that Embiid, Horford, and Ben Simmons could all coexist in the same lineup. And less than one full season into the experiment, it's clear the Sixers might've overspent on Horford in free agency considering that at a point when all three aforementioned players were healthy this year, the 76ers resorted to having Horford come off the bench.
Paying nearly $110 million to a 33-year-old backup center is far from ideal. Therefore, it wouldn't come as a surprise to see the Sixers attempt to trade Horford during the next offseason, whenever that may be. And while moving Horford and his hefty contract could be a challenging task, a former NBA executive suggests the Sixers could potentially have a trade partner in the Sacramento Kings.
John Hollinger of The Athletic believes Al Horford will be a tough sell for Philly. Regardless though, they "have to try." While the 76ers might not get a king's ransom for Horford, Hollinger says there's a chance Philly could "dangle" Al Horford in front of Sacramento in order to acquire 27-year-old forward, Harrison Barnes.
"Is Barnes better than Horford? No, not at all. Does he fit this team better? Absolutely. He can play the three or four, make perimeter shots and guard players [Tobias] Harris can't. Because their salary numbers are similar, there wouldn't need to be extra contract flotsam involved in the deal."
The 76ers would have a hard time finding better insurance for Joel Embiid if they were to exchange Barnes for Horford. But at least Barnes would be a better fit for the Sixers. Horford is a multi-talented big, but his numbers from deep this year were disappointing as he drained just 33 percent of his three-point shots. Barnes, on the other hand, managed to knock down 38 percent of his shots from long-range.
A successful playoff run this summer could change the 76ers' stance on Horford's fit with the team. But based on a rather large sample size, it seems the Sixers are better off trying to move on from the veteran and implementing a better fit into the lineup to help create better spacing for the team's prominent players.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_