New Celtics man Al Horford might prove to be the best signing this summer

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Who are the closest contenders to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the east?

Well, last year's standings would suggest that the Toronto Raptors are. Then again, the Atlanta Hawks were the conference champions only two years ago.

The Pacers have strengthened across the board and both the New York Knicks and the Chicago Bulls have almost completely rebuilt their starting fives with some exciting additions.

However, many believe that the Boston Celtics have jumped up to that second spot.

The Celtics finished fifth last season, but they have now acquired, arguably, the best player from the fourth-seeded Atlanta Hawks, Al Horford.

The also took small forward Jaylen Brown with the third pick in this summer's draft and, all of a sudden, their front court has been injected with a healthy does of just about everything.

Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley already form one of the most well-balanced backcourts in the NBA, with the former converting from an interesting bench scoring option upon arrival into an All-Star point guard, and the latter making the All-Defensive First Team last season.

So where does the 6'10" Horford fit in alongside the established talents? He's already told Thomas he'll do whatever he wants.

"It’s so crazy to have a guy like that on the team that - we shot together a couple days ago and he was just like, ‘Man, I’m here to make things easier for you. So just let me know what you need,'" Thomas said of Horford.

"That’s just wonderful, especially a guy that has that much talent. My job is just making things easier for others, and he’s making it easier for me already."

Horford himself has said since working out with the Celtics for the first time he is committed to fitting in with head coach Brad Stevens' plans and he wants to make the most of Thomas' talents.

"I think it’s important that we have good team chemistry," Horford said. "And Isaiah is such a great player. It’s amazing the things he can do on the court. I’m here to make the game easy, not only for him, but all my teammates. I want to let them all know I have their back."

Added Horford: "[Former Florida] coach [Billy] Donovan taught me [the importance of chemistry] as soon as I stepped into camp. He always harped on making sure we’re always on the same page, that we’re feeding off each other, and that’s one of the things that feel like I add value. I try to be a team guy and try to help the team in whichever way that I can. Here they already had really good chemistry. It’s up to me to come in here and try to mesh with everybody and make everything work.”

Although Kevin Durant has joined the Golden State Warriors, Dwayne Wade has joined the Chicago Bulls and Derrick Rose has joined the New York Knicks, Horford joining the Celtics might just prove to be the most significant move of the offseason.

Avery Bradley
Boston Celtics
Atlantic Division
Eastern Conference
Marcus Smart
Al Horford
Atlanta Hawks
Southeast Division
Isaiah Thomas

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