Buried inside Zach Lowe's well written piece on potential landing spots for Lance Stephenson today was a little nugget regarding Atlanta's Al Horford and Danny Ferry shopping him at the trade deadline last season. Lowe previously mentioned this rumor on a podcast with Bill Simmons.
No one can figure these guys out, which means Danny Ferry is doing his thing. They have cap flexibility and a good roster, though they dangled Al Horford at last year's trade deadline in a very targeted fashion, per sources around the league.
Naturally people picked up on this and when combined with Chad Ford's recent rumor about the Cavs looking at Horford it sparked some discussion. However, I think it is important to look at Lowe's quote closely and put it in context because I saw it get twisted up in a couple of places around the internet.
First, it's not uncommon for GMs of teams to have discussions about a lot of players. Many of these discussions are nothing but dialogue. Still, it's not uncommon for a team to put a player's name out there at the trade deadline to see what value he has. When Lowe says "targeted fashion" I read that to mean they had very specific details in what they wanted in return. Saying it was targeted makes me think they pitched it to several teams and was not something where they said "make an offer" to the entire league. The asking price on Paul Millsap was reportedly high at the deadline and I would suspect it was even higher for Horford.
Now that is all just speculation on my part but it is more in line with the things I have heard around the Hawks the last two seasons. I don't think anyone on this roster should be viewed as untouchable. In reality I think there are few players in the league that truly deserve the untouchable tag. That said, the price tag for Horford would be high given that Atlanta views him as the team's building block for the future.
Lowe also said these discussions occurred at the trade deadline and did not make it sound like they had been ongoing. Have the Hawks taken calls on Horford since the offseason started? We have no way of knowing for sure but I feel quite certain that Danny Ferry is exploring a number of possibilities. Will Horford's name come up from time-to-time? Sure it will, but that is part of the process. Just know Atlanta doesn't have to move him and, if they did, it would likely be done on their terms with the type of return they are looking for.