Report: Pistons plan on pursuing Al Horford

Rod Beard, The Detroit News
Al Horford

After making the playoffs for the first time in seven years, the Pistons joined the upper half of the NBA’s hierarchy of contending teams.

Now they could be making another jump in the offseason.

The Pistons have the No. 18 pick in Thursday’s draft, but could be seeking a more impactful boost, as they’re looking to pursue four-time All-Star big man Al Horford, according to a report by ESPN’s Marc Stein.

At 30 years old, Horford also would become the Pistons’ oldest and most veteran starter, adding some leadership and playoff experience to a squad that mostly lacked it, before a four-game sweep at the hands of the eventual-champion Cleveland Cavaliers this season.

In his nine seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, Horford has averaged 14.3 points and 8.9 rebounds and shot 34 percent on 3-pointers. In 2012-13, he had one of his best seasons, posting a double-double, with 17.4 points and 10.2 rebounds. He remained productive this season, with 15.2 points and 7.3 rebounds.

Pistons president Stan Van Gundy has long coveted a stretch power forward with shooting range — such as Donatas Motiejunas, who was coming to the Pistons last season until a voided trade — but Horford could be another alternative.

Getting Horford, a native of Grand Ledge, Michigan, could take some work, though. He just finished a five-year, $60-million contract and a new deal could be in excess of $20 million per year. That would mean the Pistons would have to jettison some of their current roster in order to make room under the salary cap.

Van Gundy said the Pistons could have around $14 million in cap space, which likely would mean multiple players would need to go, if they want to keep their core group of starters.

Van Gundy said that whatever the Pistons do in Thursday’s draft, it likely wouldn’t affect their plans in the free-agent market.

The Pistons could target a point guard in the draft, but likely would need to add another free-agent point guard, in addition to a big man.

If the Pistons are able to acquire Horford, they could have a formidable starting lineup with Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Tobias Harris and Andre Drummond. Either Harris or Marcus Morris, both of whom were acquired last season, could slide into a reserve role.

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard