NBA free agency round-up: Boston Celtics agree to sign Al Horford, and hope to pair him with Kevin Durant

Boston lands its big fish while waiting for the biggest's decision. That plus other news and notes from Saturday's NBA free-agency frenzy.

Atlanta Hawks' Al Horford, center, celebrates after making a basket and drawing a foul in the third quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls, Monday, Dec. 15, 2014, in Atlanta. Atlanta won 93-86. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
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The Boston Celtics, along with the rest of the basketball world, await the decision of prized free agent Kevin Durant. While waiting, though, they shored up their front court by agreeing to sign versatile power forward Al Horford away from the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday.

Horford was perhaps the best available player in the free agency pool after Durant, and the cash-flush Celtics are also in the running to sign the Oklahoma City Thunder star. Also awaiting Durant’s decision are Oklahoma City, Golden State, San Antonio, Miami and the Los Angeles Clippers, according to several reports. An announcement on Durant’s intentions is expected sometime within the coming days

Horford’s four-year, $113 million (Dh 415 million) agreement with Boston has left the Hawks without their respected leader, fan favourite and player with most seniority. The Hawks reached the playoffs in each of Horford’s nine seasons since he was the No. 3 overall pick from Florida in 2007 (the same year Durant went No. 2). Horford, a four-time All-Star, led Atlanta to its first Eastern Conference finals appearance in 2015.

The Hawks hoped to re-sign Horford even after reaching an agreement Friday with centre Dwight Howard on a three-year contract worth $70.5 million (Dh 259 million). After so many years playing small with the 6-foot-10 Horford in the middle, the Hawks wanted a big front line that included both Howard and Horford. They will instead press on with only Howard.

Latest on Harrison Barnes

The Dallas Mavericks have informed representatives of Golden State’s Harrison Barnes that they intend to sign the restricted free agent to an offer sheet for a four-year, $95 million contract, two people with knowledge of Dallas’ plans said Saturday.

The people spoke to The Associated Press about the potential maximum contract on the condition of anonymity because no deals can be signed before July 7. The Warriors can match any deal for Barnes and are more likely to do so if they don’t get an agreement with Kevin Durant. Barnes was the fourth-leading scorer behind Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green for the 73-win Warriors, who lost to Cleveland in the NBA Finals. For Dallas, the 6-foot-8 Barnes is a potential replacement for Chandler Parsons, who has agreed to sign with Memphis.

The Mavericks’ plan, first reported by ESPN, comes a day after their top two targets in free agency, Memphis guard Mike Conley and Miami centre Hassan Whiteside, decided to stay with their current teams. Parsons, Conley and Whiteside are all getting max contracts.

Houston Rockets

The Rockets are loading up on shooting for new coach Mike D’Antoni, agreeing to terms on Saturday with forward Ryan Anderson and guard Eric Gordon to add even more scoring punch around James Harden.

Anderson is getting four years and $80 million, while Gordon agreed on a four-year, $53 million contract. The 28-year-old Anderson spent the past four seasons with New Orleans and has been one of the NBA’s top 3-point shooters in recent years. He averaged 17 points and six rebounds last season. Gordon has proven to be a potent scorer when healthy, but injuries have derailed him ever since his rookie season in 2008-09. He played 78 games that season with the Clippers, but his most since then was 64 three years ago.

Los Angeles Lakers

Sudanese-born British forward Luol Deng has agreed to a four-year deal worth $72 million with the Los Angeles Lakers, according to multiple media reports Saturday. Deng averaged 12.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 74 games last season for the Miami Heat. He joined the Lakers after talks with Washington and Utah.

New York Knicks

The Associated Press reported Courtney Lee has accepted a four-year contract offer from the Knicks. New York will become the seventh team for the well-travelled Lee, who just finished his eighth NBA season. Lee averaged 9.6 points last season for Memphis and Charlotte, matching his career average.

Washington Wizards

With no roster depth at centre, the Wizards agreed Saturday to pay Ian Mahinmi $64 million over four years. Mahinmi’s Twitter account had a message directed at the Wizards’ account, saying: “let’s goooo.”

Sacramento Kings

The Kings have added two dependable veterans to the roster as they try to stabilize what has been a chaotic situation on the court and in the front office. The team agreed to terms on a two-year, $25 million deal with guard Arron Afflalo and a two-year, $16 million deal for Anthony Tolliver. Afflalo averaged 12.8 points and shot 38 percent on 3-pointers for the Knicks last season, his ninth in the NBA.

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