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Report: Dwight Howard agrees with Hawks for 3 years, $70 million without meeting Celtics 07.01.16 at 7:12 pm ET
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Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard

This will probably come as a relief to plenty of Celtics fans, but Yahoo is reporting that Dwight Howard has agreed to a three-year, $70 million contract with his hometown Hawks.

Howard had been expected to meet with the Celtics in the coming days, but he canceled all of his remaining visits after striking a deal with the Hawks.

Howard, 30, was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 draft out of Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy by the Magic. He has averaged 17.8 points and 12.7 rebounds for his career, and has also played with the Lakers and Rockets.

He reached the Finals in 2009 by knocking out the defending champion Celtics in the second round after the C’s had taken a 3-2 series lead. He averaged 16.4 points and 17.1 rebounds in that series before losing in the Finals to the Lakers.

Howard had been linked to the Celtics this offseason, but his back-to-the-basket game didn’t necessarily fit Brad Stevens’ system. The C’s are expected to make a hard push for Hawks big man Al Horford, who becomes expendable with Howard now in the fold.

Read More: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Celtics, Celtics rumors
Report: Celtics, Hawks setting up meeting with Dwight Howard 06.29.16 at 9:04 am ET
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Mar 11, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley (0) shoots the ball against Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) during the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The Celtics reportedly have their sights set on Dwight Howard during free agency. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

Dwight Howard is next up on the Celtics’ wish list. 

Sources tell ESPN that the 30-year-old big man will sit down face-to-face with the Celtics, along with the Atlanta Hawks, as free agency begins this Friday. 

ESPN reports that Howard is expected to meet with as many as five teams in free agency. Unlike the situation with Kevin Durant, where a return to Oklahoma City is a distinct possibility, Howard is not expect to return to Houston after turning down his $23.2 million option for next season

According to ESPN, sources say the Heat have not yet booked a meeting with Howard in free agency, but could emerge later in the process. 

ESPN reported Tuesday that the Hawks are trying to make up their mind on whether to go after Kevin Durant or consider an Al Horford-Dwight Howard front court through free agency.  

As was the case with Horford, Howard was considered to be a target of the Celtics at the February trade deadline before the team backed off. 

Read More: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Dwight Howard,
Report: Celtics will target Al Horford in free agency 06.28.16 at 8:49 pm ET
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Apr 28, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford (15) shoots the ball against Boston Celtics guard Evan Turner (11) during the second half in game six of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Al Horford is shooting for a big payday in free agency. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

Kevin Durant is not the only focus of the Celtics as free agency approaches. 

According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Celtics will be among the teams approaching Al Horford when free agency begins on Friday. 

The Celtics will be in for some serious competition, Stein reports.

“The Hawks, of course, face a stiff challenge in trying to retain Horford, who sources say is expected to draw free-agent interest from a number of teams, including the Lakers, Rockets, Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons, Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets,” Stein writes. 

As is the case with Durant, Horford has nine years of experience. That is significant because he can command up to 30 percent of his team’s cap this year. That figure goes up to 35 percent after next season.

This has led to wide speculation that both Durant and Horford would draw “1+1 contract” this summer, allowing both to cash in again next year. A “1+1” is a one-year contract with a player option for the following season. 

Horford’s long-term role with the Hawks is unclear with the trade of Jeff Teague to the Pacers. Should he seek a max deal this year, he can re-sign with the Hawks at five years $152 million or move and sign for four years, $112 million. If he signs a one-year deal, it would be at an estimated cost of $26.4 million.

Horford, a 6-foot-10 stretch center who can run the floor and knock down a mid-range shot, has long been rumored to be a target of Danny Ainge, including at the trade deadline this past February

Horford averaged just 12.5 points but hauled in 8.5 rebounds a game against the Celtics in Atlanta’s six-game first-round win. Horford improved slightly against the Cavaliers in the second round, going for 14.8 points a game. 

Read More: 2016 NBA free agency, Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics
Evan Turner makes it clear he wants to return to Boston, but ‘a lot of variables that are going to occur … I can’t control’ 04.29.16 at 1:39 am ET
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Was Thursday Evan Turner’s swan song in Boston?

“I really don’t know,” Turner said after scoring just eight points on 4-of-17 shooting in 37 minutes in a 104-92 loss to the Hawks in Game 6. “I would love to come back, but at the same time, a lot of things, a lot of variables that are going to occur and things like that that I can’t control. Whenever July hits we’ll talk about it.”

Turner, the No. 2 overall pick of the 76ers in 2010, made $3.425 million this season, finishing out a two-year, $6.7 million deal. He could be in line for a big payday, somewhere in the neighborhood of an $8 million-$10 million annual salary. 

What will Turner be looking for?

“Just fit, obviously. I want to get a decent amount of money, you know what I’m saying? But at the same time the fit is going to be huge and the opportunity to play on a winning team,” Turner said. “I have played on [expletive] teams a couple times and it’s not fun. But obviously the fit, the opportunity to play, and the opportunity to progress and win.”

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Read More: 2016 NBA playoffs, Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Evan Turner
Mike Petraglia, Sam Packard explain how Hawks eliminated Celtics in Game 6 at 1:07 am ET
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WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Sam Packard break down how the ice-cold shooting of the Celtics combined with Atlanta’s defense on Isaiah Thomas powered the Hawks to a 104-92 win over Boston in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals Thursday at TD Garden, ending Boston’s season in the first round for the second straight season.

Read More: 2016 NBA playoffs, Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Isaiah Thomas
Teary-eyed Isaiah Thomas: ‘This should hurt everybody’ at 12:59 am ET
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After spending 20 minutes with a towel draped over his head in front of his locker, and after emptying his tank for six games, Isaiah Thomas had to get up the energy to walk to the postgame podium. 

He did so with red eyes, the product of emotion and tears following a 104-92 loss to the Hawks in Game 6 that suddenly ended his breakout season and began an offseason of questions. 

“It was 2-2, we went down there and they made an adjustment to try and do whatever they can to stop me and guys continued to play through it, and that’s what I love about this group,” said Thomas, who had a team-leading 25 points on 9-of-24 shooting. “Guys continued to shoot their shot with confidence, it’s just we couldn’t make enough plays. They made more plays than us. There was a game where they went on that third-quarter run, it’s tough to get back into the game, especially against a good team. So, we’ve got to just learn from these battles, knowing that nobody said it was going to be easy, it’s tough to win a series and we know that. It was tough to even win two games. This should hurt everybody, and we will come back next year even stronger.”

For the second straight game, Boston had no answers when the Hawks threw two and three bodies at Thomas, in an effort to force others to pick up the slack. 

But this time, unlike after Game 5, Thomas wasn’t calling out his teammates. He was praising them. 

“Yes, it’s very emotional for me, just because we gave it our all,” Thomas said. ” We never put our head down, like I said, this group of guys is something special. I mean, I played, I gave it my all, so that’s why it hurts that much more. I wish I could have done more, but it just happened to be like that. So it is tough on me, though.”

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Read More: 2016 NBA playoffs, Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Isaiah Thomas
Follow Celtics-Hawks Game 6 live 04.28.16 at 7:26 pm ET
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Live Blog Celtics-Hawks Game 6 LIVE
 

Read More: 2016 NBA playoffs, Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics,
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