Forget the 76ers well-documented issues with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Al Horford has become a bigger problem — a $164 million problem.
Despite Simmons’ absence, Horford played a season-low 19 minutes in Thursday’s come-from-behind win over the Nets, coming off the bench for the second straight game. He registered a minus-26 rating. When off the floor, the Nets outscored the Nets 79-45.
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“It’s what the team needs right now, and that’s what we’re doing,” Horford said, according to PhillyVoice.com, about coming off the bench.
“I didn’t really give it much thought to be honest, I’m just refreshed being back and ready for the second half of the season.”
Coach Brett Brown said he will use the next 7-10 games to get a set rotation, which means Horford might not return to the starting line-up anytime soon.
Tough night for Al Horford last night
Nets outscored the Sixers 59-33 when Horford played (-26)
Sixers outscored Nets 79-45 when Horford sat (+34)
Horford played just 19 minutes in an OT game despite Ben Simmons being out. pic.twitter.com/b3Fav0Ovu4
— Kirk Goldsberry (@kirkgoldsberry) February 21, 2020
The veteran forward is averaging 11.9 points and 6.6 rebounds in 30.6 minutes per game. His scoring output is the second-lowest it has been since he broke into the league and the rebounding is a career low.
The addition of Horford, who signed a four-year, AU$164 million contract this off-season, was supposed to give the 76ers one of the best frontcourts in basketball, a dynamic trio that would be difficult to match up with.
Yet, they find themselves with the fifth-best record in the Eastern Conference at 35-21, six games in the loss column behind the Raptors in the Atlantic Division. They have struggled offensively, in part due to lack of spacing.
According to The Ringer, the 76ers jump from a net rating of minus-1.1 in 480 minutes Horford and Embiid are on the court to plus-7.6 in 707 minutes with just Embiid. The two have averaged 14.3 minutes per game together and had the worst offensive rating (98.7) of any two 76ers teammates that have played together for at least 300 minutes, NBCSports.com reported.
“Obviously as a group and as a team, we’re still trying to figure out and see what works best,” forward Tobias Harris said.
“Just to have that mentality and be able to do what could be a great move for our team and see if it works, that shows a winning attitude, winning mentality, and we’ll see if it works.”
The Sixers face the Milwaukee Bucks in an away fixture on Sunday.
This article was originally published in New York Post and republished with permission
Originally published as The Sixers’ massive $164 million problem