Al Horford ended the waiting game with a simple tweet: “Celtic Pride,” it said, followed by 18 shamrocks.
The number might not have been a coincidence.
A franchise with 17 NBA championships may have gotten closer to contending for an 18th on Saturday, when Horford decided to accept a four-year, $113 million offer to join the Boston Celtics. Horford made the announcement on Twitter, and the terms of the detail were confirmed to The Associated Press by a person with direct knowledge of the negotiations.
As with nearly all free agent deals, sources are speaking on the condition of anonymity because no deals can be finalized until at least Thursday under league rules.
Horford wasted no time in changing his Twitter bio, which now says he is “Boston Celtics star Forward/Center Al Horford.” And the reactions came in swiftly as well, after one of the biggest prizes in this year’s free-agent sweepstakes decided to leave Atlanta.
“Let’s get it,” Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas wrote.
The Celtics won 48 games last season, finishing in a four-way tie for the third-best record in the Eastern Conference. They have a strong young core already, a highly regarded coach in Brad Stevens, and had the money to land a huge free agent.
Horford also met with the Washington Wizards as well as the Hawks, the team that drafted him and the team he’s now leaving. Horford spent his first nine NBA seasons in Atlanta, but the Hawks agreed to terms with Dwight Howard and Kent Bazemore on big-money deals, leaving them little room for their centerpiece.
Atlanta could have made a trade or two to create enough room to keep him as well, but by Saturday Horford was already starting to look elsewhere.
The four-time All-Star averaged 15.2 points and 7.3 rebounds last season. He gives the Celtics a formidable presence on both ends of the floor as they try to vault into the top tier of the East.
In other dealings subject to Thursday’s official announcements:
The 31-year-old Deng averaged 12.3 points and 6.0 rebounds for Miami last season. He has spent the last two years with the Heat.
The 28-year-old Anderson spent the past four seasons with New Orleans. He averaged 17 points and six rebounds last season.
Leuer averaged 8.5 points and 5.6 rebounds for the Phoenix Suns last season, his fifth in the league
Afflalo averaged 12.8 points and shot 38 percent on 3-pointers for the New York Knicks last season, his ninth in the NBA.
Tolliver spent the past two seasons in Detroit, playing about 20 minutes a night as a reserve.
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