Marc Stein: Pistons among 3 teams with early interest in Al Horford

ESPN’s Marc Stein relayed a rumor Wednesday morning suggesting the Detroit Pistons will be one of at least three teams planning on taking a good hard look at Atlanta Hawks free agent Al Horford.

Horford, who turned 30 on June 3, stands 6-foot-11 and boasts a refined offensive game both with his back to the basket and extending out to the perimeter. His 88 3-pointers in 2016 were 67 more than he’d hit in his previous eight seasons combined.

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press first hinted at the Pistons’ potential interest in Horford this past January, when the Pistons were still in pursuit of a frontcourt upgrade over Ersan Ilyasova and Anthony Tolliver.

However, barely two weeks following Ellis’ report, the Pistons pulled the trigger on a deal for versatile forward Tobias Harris, seven years younger than Horford and armed with a manageable contract that’s locked in for the foreseeable future.

As a result, creating ample space for Horford—both from an on-court perspective and in terms of salary cap—could prove difficult, particularly when considering that it could come at the cost of a piece or two of Detroit’s young core. With Andre Drummond set to receive a max contract ASAP, outbidding the likes of the Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic could be more trouble than it’s worth.

A four-time all-star, Horford averaged 15.2 points and 7.6 rebounds for the Hawks last season. While his offense has diversified with time, his work on the boards appears to be slowly diminishing; he averaged 9.6 rebounds a night during his first six years in the league but has seen that number drop to 7.4 in the three years since. Of course, such a drop could be mitigated by playing alongside a center such as Drummond, who led the league with 14.8 rebounds per game in 2016.

Horford, a native of the Dominican Republic, attended high school in Grand Ledge. His brother, Jon, played four years under John Beilein at the University of Michigan, averaging 2.9 points per game.