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The argument began, as so many do, over something small and seemingly insignificant. Ryan Anderson can’t even remember what it was. A text message? An offhand comment?
Then the quarrel grew, gaining strength. It carried over from lunch at a restaurant to the drive home, Gia Allemand’s voice growing louder. By the time Ryan dropped her at her apartment, in the Warehouse District of New Orleans, around six on the evening of Aug. 12, 2013, they’d said things they could never take back, and Gia’s anger had morphed into something else, dark yet strangely calm. Upon returning to his apartment, two long blocks away on Tchoupitoulas Street, Ryan flipped on a single light and slumped on the couch. All around were reminders of his relationship with Gia. The kitchen where they tried out new recipes. The balcony where he set up a movie projector and an inflatable bed on her birthday so they could watch Pitch Perfect. Photos of them together; Gia smiling as Ryan gave her a piggyback ride.
From the outside theirs was a glamorous relationship: the NBA player and the television sweetheart. And indeed, they looked great in the pages of Us Weekly, the 25-year-old Anderson, a 6' 10" power forward for the Pelicans, leaning down and grinning next to the thin, otherworldly beauty with the dazzling smile. At 29, Gia was two years removed from her TV days, first a season on The Bachelor and then two seasons on its spin-off Bachelor Pad, but the shows’ fans still adored her. Unlike many other Bachelor contestants, she seemed real. Vulnerable. Gia talked about how she’d been bullied as a kid, teased so persistently for her dark arm hair that she bleached it. She possessed that rare quality that made viewers feel as if they’d known her their whole lives.
Ryan had been smitten ever since that February night two years earlier when Gia had floated past him in a long green dress at a hotel in the Bahamas. He’d told his brother-in-law and good friend, Mark Groves, “If I don’t talk to this girl, I’m going to regret it for the rest of my life.” Ryan and Gia sat on the beach until sunrise, talking about friends, family and faith. While they later traveled the world, exploring China and Mexico, theirs was an almost teenage relationship. They went to Walt Disney World and Epcot. At Easter they made each other baskets, Gia including a photo album of the couple in his, Ryan filling hers with candy and coloring books.
Gia’s mom, Donna Micheletti, says she had never seen her daughter so happy in a relationship. As for Ryan, until a few weeks earlier he had been certain Gia was the one. They had looked at houses together, talked about rings. “The best way I can describe it,” he says, “is that when I was with her, I felt at home.”
Which is why he was so lost that night, crumpled on his couch. Gia was prone to steep emotional swings, and they’d had arguments before—all couples do, right? They’d become more frequent and more serious of late, but never like this. She’d said things that deeply hurt Ryan, accusing him of cheating; he’d said things he instantly regretted, telling her he no longer loved her. At the restaurant Ryan had been so upset that, as he rushed to the car, he forgot to tip the valet.
He needed to clear his head. He called a childhood friend in Dallas. Drive up here tonight, his friend said. You can crash with me. You need some space.
Except that as they spoke, Ryan’s phone buzzed. It was Gia’s mom. She had called at other times after Gia and Ryan fought, but now he couldn’t bring himself to talk to her. She called again. Then, at 7:28 p.m., her husband, Tony Micheletti, texted Ryan: There’s something wrong with Gia. You need to go check on her.
Ryan became frightened. Once, months earlier, he had arrived at Gia’s apartment to find her passed out, a bottle of Nyquil and an empty wineglass next to her bed. And tonight she’d told him to stop at Walgreen’s on the way home and returned to the car with more Nyquil. He figured she was going to try to sleep off her anger. Now he wondered what she’d done. Jamming on flip-flops and a baseball hat, he rushed to the parking garage. By the time he reached Gia’s apartment complex, he was so worried that, exiting his SUV, he left the door open and the engine running.
Those who knew Ryan growing up find it hard to say which was less likely: that he would date a celebrity or that he would become a pro athlete. Even now, seven years into his NBA career, Ryan’s ascent remains shocking to his relatives. Not because he isn’t talented (he is) or dedicated (he is), but because there was no family precedent. Jack Anderson, then an engineer at Intel, is barely 6 feet tall; Sue, a part-time interior decorator, topped out at 5' 8". Neither were athletic. Yet their second child was so tall that when he was three he was disqualified from an Easter egg hunt for being “too old.” After that, Sue took to carrying a copy of Ryan’s birth certificate.
From an early age Ryan gravitated to basketball. He spent afternoons launching jumpers in the slanted driveway of their home, in the small mountain town of El Dorado Hills, Calif., 30 miles northeast of Sacramento. Ryan fell in love with the Kings and wore number 4 in honor of Chris Webber. His parents were mystified.
A self-taught shooter, Ryan grew into a potent inside-outside threat for Oak Ridge High. He scored 50 points in a game against another local star named Colin Kaepernick. As a junior, he led his team to the Division II state championship. When a Princeton coach called the Andersons’ home, Jack was overjoyed. But as he handed his son the phone, Jack realized that he didn’t understand Ryan’s world. There, Princeton was not the ultimate goal. From 27 schools, Ryan chose Cal. His sophomore season, 2007–08, he led the Pac-10 in scoring with 21.1 points per game.
That June, Ryan was drafted in the first round by the Nets, and a year later he was traded to Orlando, where he blossomed under coach Stan Van Gundy. Ryan also entered into his first serious romantic relationship. It had been a long time coming. In high school he had endured, as he puts it, “a big awkward phase.” Tall and pudgy, he was sensitive and shy. He was also a germaphobe, taking Zoloft until he was 18 to calm the rushing panic he felt upon handling a dirty basketball. Though the relationship with his girlfriend fizzled after a year, the experience was exciting. He knew he wanted to get married.
His game and personal life soon came together. During the lockout-shortened 2011–12 season Ryan averaged 16.1 points and 7.7 rebounds. He met Gia during the All-Star break, and in July he received a four-year, $34 million contract when New Orleans acquired him in a sign-and-trade. Gia moved to the city soon after, and a season later Ryan finished second in the NBA in three-pointers. At 25, he had a promising career, financial security and the woman of his dreams.
Still, his mom worried about him. Ryan is like his father, whose work nickname is the Relentless Optimist. “He just has such a kind heart,” she says. “I don’t think he’s had enough experience to see people’s motives.” Indeed, while popular with teammates and coaches—“You couldn’t ask for a more stellar pro athlete and friend, on and off the court,” says former New Orleans forward Jason Smith—Ryan was different from many of his NBA peers, a happy-go-lucky goofball whose favorite musician was John Williams, composer of the Star Wars and Superman themes. Ryan was the kind of guy who went in costume to Comic-Con, a giant Batman in a too-small suit. Such was his seemingly charmed life that, midway into adulthood, he’d never attended a funeral.
The first thing Ryan saw upon entering Gia’s fourth-floor apartment were her knees. His recollections of what followed are fragmentary. His screaming and running to her. The vacuum-cleaner cord hanging from the second-floor handrail of the spiral staircase, so tight around her neck that at first he couldn’t loosen it. Gia’s dog, Bentley, running to him. A neighbor arriving and dialing 911 as Ryan tried to revive Gia. Seeing the three-word note in her handwriting on the dining room table: Mom gets everything. Paramedics rushing in. Ryan calling Donna. Donna cursing at him, screaming that he knew Gia was sensitive, that he was supposed to protect her. The police pushing through the door. Ryan answering questions, sobbing, blaming himself. Pelicans coach Monty Williams hurrying in with a team security guard and finding Ryan slumped on the carpet, his back to the door, unable to rise. Williams dropping to his knees and hugging his player, the two men rocking back and forth.
For Williams, the night was a test of sorts. A fourth-year coach, Williams had played at Notre Dame and then for five NBA teams. He and Anderson were unusually close. Both men were Christians, and they bonded immediately despite the vast differences in their backgrounds. Williams grew up poor and once, at Notre Dame, considered suicide. That didn’t make it any easier to relate to Anderson now, however. Everyone’s pain is different.
As a crowd milled outside the apartment complex, Williams and the security guard hoisted up Ryan, who was limp and drenched with tears and sweat, too hysterical even to walk. They dragged Ryan to the elevator and then into a waiting car, the tops of his feet, still wedged into flip-flops, scraping the asphalt so hard that his toes still bear thick white calluses more than a year later.
As they drove in silence, Williams kept thinking that it was fine if he blew a game, but he couldn’t mess up now. Once home, he huddled with his wife, Ingrid, and Ryan in the family room, praying. Ingrid’s brother had committed suicide recently. She knew not to say it was going to be O.K., because it wasn’t. “This is going to be hard for a long time,” she told Ryan.
That night, as the family pastor came and went, Ryan cried so much that it felt as if he were dry heaving or bleeding internally. Each convulsion ripped his insides apart. Around 1 a.m., at Ingrid’s urging, Monty brought one of his sons’ mattresses down to the living room. There the two men lay through the night, Ryan curled on the sofa and his coach on the floor next to him. When Ryan wanted to talk, they talked. Otherwise there was only his muted sobbing. Finally, just after the sun came up, Ryan fell into a fitful sleep.
Donna Micheletti had spent years dreading this day. For so long she and Gia had been a team. Donna and *Eugene *Allemand, Gia’s father, a *cement-truck driver, divorced when Gia was eight, a bad split. Donna raised her daughter in a two-bedroom garden condo in Queens. A *civilian investigator for the New York City *Police Department, Donna poured her energy into her daughter. She took Gia to model for Johnson & Johnson ads as a baby. She bought Gia toys and dresses and purses, trying to, as she says, “make her forget the disappointments.”
Gia was by all accounts deeply affected by her parents’ divorce and looked elsewhere for affirmation. She volunteered at an animal hospital, sang in a children’s folk group and choreographed her friends in intricate dance routines. Later, after years of training and struggling to keep her figure ballet-thin, she entered the dance program at Hartford but dropped out after a year and a half. She switched to *elementary education but decided that it wasn’t her calling after she graduated *** laude from Hartford. To acquaintances she seemed eternally cheery, but close friends knew that if she was sad about something, she carried it with her for the rest of the day. Her lifelong best friend, Becca Cohen, describes a young woman who felt slights keenly, who was prone to the “highest of highs and lowest of lows” yet always put others first: “She didn’t want to spread bad energy.”
Then, on Jan. 3, nearly six months after Gia’s passing, he lost his sanctuary. It was on a routine inbounds play: Ryan faked right, then cut left to receive the ball. Celtics forward Gerald Wallace plowed into him from behind, trying for a steal. Anderson flew forward, his neck jerking awkwardly. He fell to the floor in a daze.
When he came to, he felt a terrible pain in his arms. Looking up, he saw teammates and coaches and trainers. He wondered if he was paralyzed. A stretcher arrived. “No way I’m going off on a stretcher,” said Ryan.
“We need to make sure your spine is O.K.,” said Jon Ishop, the Pelicans’ head athletic trainer.
On the bench, Smith watched in horror. Of all the people for this to happen to, he thought. Monty Williams whispered, “C’mon Ryan, get up. Get up.”
Finally Ryan was loaded onto the stretcher, his head immobilized. Ishop whispered into his ear to give a thumbs up to the crowd, because that’s what you do in these situations. Ryan complied. He woke up the next day in a Boston hospital. The diagnosis: two herniated disks in his neck. He would miss the final 51 games of the season. The nerve pain in his arms was terrible -- just shaking someone’s hand was excruciating.
In the weeks that followed, Smith and other teammates video chatted with Ryan, trying to keep his spirits up. His parents moved to New Orleans to help him recover. But the pain persisted, and in April he flew to Los Angeles to see Dr. Robert Watkins, who’d performed a cervical neck fusion on Peyton Manning. Watkins did a similar surgery on Ryan, and Ryan noticed something peculiar: Now all anyone asked about was the injury. It was as if all memory of Gia had vanished.
For Ryan the opposite was true. If anything, basketball had just postponed the grieving.
Unable to hide in the game, Ryan became, in his words, “a detective.” He went through his relationship with Gia, focusing on the details, how her bizarre behavior in those final weeks led Ryan to suggest they go to counseling or take some time off. He read up on depression and suicide and talked with Gia’s mother and friends. He saw how uninformed he’d been. How small *moments that seemed insignificant were warning signs. Such as the time Gia confessed to having thought about suicide once, and Ryan told her that anyone who hadn’t entertained such thoughts wasn’t human. She should look at how happy she was, how good her life was.
He thought back to the angry text message Gia had received from her father in May. Eugene Allemand was upset that Gia hadn’t sent a card to his mother on Mother’s Day. “Don’t bother calling me for father’s day I don’t want to inconvenience you,” he wrote. After Gia replied that she had sent her grandmother an email and that her own life was “much more peaceful” when Eugene wasn’t in it, he responded, “You have as much class as your mother. ... Your [sic] no daughter of mine. Too stupid.”
It was their last communication. “I regret what I said,” Eugene says. As for Gia’s suicide, he says, “They can blame me, but I don’t blame myself at all. Unfortunately my daughter needed professional help. She must have had demons inside.” In August 2013 the New York Daily News ran a story in which Eugene said of the texts, “It was lots of nasty things said in the heat of the moment. If she were still here, I would tell her I’m so sorry and that I love her and that she will always be my rainbow.”
Gia was shaken by the texts, Ryan recalls, but she tweeted, “Don’t ever let anyone make you feel like you’re not good enough. That person isn’t good enough.” Ryan interpreted this as Gia being strong, exhibiting what he calls her “hard shell.”
Now, going back through their life together, Ryan felt closer to the truth. If he just kept digging, he thought, maybe he’d figure it all out. Solve the puzzle. Find closure.
I had no idea. It’s a phrase you hear often after a suicide. He seemed happy. She seemed fine. There were literally NO red flags. Rarely if ever is this true. There are almost always warning signs. Research shows that 90% of people who die by suicide suffer from mental disorders or substance abuse. In most cases the condition is untreated. “People are really good at cloaking it, so to a certain percentage of people [suicide] does seem out of the blue,” says Christine Moutier, M.D., chief medical officer for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “But that’s partly because they don’t know what to look for, and partly because mental health problems are so stigmatized that we don’t let on what’s going on inside.”
Why did Gia kill herself? Her mother believes it was because of childhood scars and PMDD, a combination that she also believes wrecked her relationships. “She destroyed her and Ryan, picking and picking and picking,” says Donna. “He didn’t know she had an illness, and she wouldn’t tell him.” Indeed, PMDD “may not sound like a big deal,” says Moutier, “but it can be in terms of how intense pain and depression can get.”
Meanwhile Becca Cohen, Gia’s childhood friend, always worried that Gia wouldn’t make it past 30. “I felt like a seer -- you don’t know why you feel that way, but you just get nervous,” Cohen says. “Since college, I was worried about her, because she lived so much of her life for other people. Some people have their lives planned out and what they want, and it’s very hard to deal with disappointment.”
The truth, of course, is that no one will ever really know. That’s one of the many terrible things about suicide. There are never conclusive answers, at least not satisfactory ones.
It took Ryan nearly a year to realize this: There were much deeper things going on inside Gia that he couldn’t solve. At the time he thought it was all about getting over the next hump, and then things would be perfect. But it was an endless succession of humps.
Now Ryan focuses on the memories. Most days he wears a key-shaped necklace Gia gave him. (She had the matching heart.) He keeps all the photos of her on his phone, though he can’t bring himself to watch home videos. He has made it through more than a year of firsts: the first Christmas, the first birthday, the first Valentine’s Day without Gia. It’s time to try to move forward. And the only way to do that is by telling her story. His story.
He begins at 4:30 on a Sunday afternoon in September, sitting on a white couch in his living room in Metairie, the same couch on which he and Gia used to watch their favorite shows. He starts slowly. It is the first time he has spoken at length to a reporter. Eventually it all tumbles out. Ryan speaks for five hours without a break, then three more the following day.
“I’ve been given a platform in the NBA,” he says. “I know when I’m done playing, people aren’t going to really care about me, the way I shot three-pointers. But during this time when I have a voice, I think it’s really important for me to talk about it.” He continues. "People need to put a face to [suicide prevention and survival], and I’m O.K. being that face.” He pauses. “I’m not overjoyed that I have to talk about the most painful experience of my life, but either I become that face or I tuck [myself] away in a corner and I let this rule over me.”
So, over the past few months Ryan has *become an advocate. Along with Donna, and with the help of his father, he is starting the Gia Allemand Foundation. They’ll have a website, and they say they are waiting for IRS approval as a nonprofit. The goal is to help people in situations similar to Gia’s: young women who endured bullying, who have body-image issues and low self-esteem, who feel lost.
Over the summer Ryan joined an 18-mile Out of the Darkness suicide-awareness walk in Philadelphia. He filmed a short video for a suicide-prevention group called To Write Love on Her Arms. He spoke at a women’s shelter in Sacramento, an experience he found surreal: Seven women who’d been through hell -- *abusive relationships, prostitution, living on the streets -- surrounded him and prayed for him. “If [Gia’s suicide] hadn’t happened to me, I’d walk into that room and I don’t relate to any of them, and they sure as heck don’t want to hear from me,” he says. “But now I have a story to tell.”
Ryan hopes that every time he hits a deep three or scraps for a rebound, fans will think about Gia. He hopes people will read this story or Google him and learn about depression and the warning signs of suicide. He hopes they will feel O.K. talking about it. After all, someone dies from cancer and it’s described heroically -- “a battle.” Suicide is viewed as selfish. “Anyone who knows Gia knows that selfish was the last thing she was,” Ryan says. “She would never want to cause anyone suffering. She just wanted to escape the pain.”
Who knows how Ryan will feel a year from now, five years, 10? The ripples don’t stop when you tell them to. He’s already been changed permanently. His innocence is gone. He’s more wary of the world, but also more empathetic. His friends see the man who has replaced the boy. “Ryan could have hidden this from the world,” says Mark Groves, “but he’s facing it head on.”
Ryan has no long-term strategy, he says, “but I can finally say after a long time of thinking that there’s no hope and there’s no future, I can see a hope and I can see a future.” He remains close with Gia’s mother. He visited her in Pennsylvania in August, and in October, Donna flew down with her teenage son, Dylan, to whom she says Ryan has become like a big brother. Meanwhile, Donna reaches out to troubled young women through Facebook and email. Recently she put up a young woman from California at her house for three weeks. (Ryan paid the girl’s airfare.) Donna wants girls to know that what Gia did wasn’t cool. They should not follow her example. Not try to be perfect. That it’s O.K. to be vulnerable. To ask for help.
Meanwhile, Ryan is back on the court, fully recovered from the neck surgery, averaging 16.3 points and 5.9 rebounds. He is playing 26.3 minutes a game, and the Pelicans look like a possible playoff contender. “I learned a lot from Ryan going through all this stuff,” Williams says. “I was in awe of his ability to come back, to *address the team, to play as well as he did, to be the teammate that he was and is.”
The folks at the American Suicide Prevention Foundation are also impressed. Moutier says, “He has done nothing but spread truth in a very positive way.”
Positive. It’s an interesting word choice. Ryan still talks to Gia sometimes, when he’s alone at home or driving the car. When he’s having a bad day, he tells her he wishes she were still here.
Upstairs in his house he has the green dress from the night they met, in the Bahamas. He keeps it in a safe with other mementos: photos, cards, the silver giraffe necklace she loved so much. He hasn’t opened the safe in nearly a year. He can’t bring himself to. He is just now catching up on the shows they used to watch together, whole seasons of Game of Thrones and Homeland. It feels wrong, but he has to move on.
That’s not quite right. It’s not moving on so much as moving forward. Whenever he’s ready to date again, Ryan says, the woman will have to understand that Gia will always be part of who he is. That he is a package deal now.
This is what he’s figured out: You can let people slip away, and try to forget -- or, if you choose, you can bring them with you.
Oh, man, I remember hearing about this.
She had been on The Bachelor t.v. show. How awful.
And from the bolded, this happens two years later...
“It was really, really good to see him and to be with him. I think that was important. When something like that happens, you feel like you’re alone,”Anderson told reporters on Thursday.
“In his case, so many people care about him and love him and it was good to show him a glimpse of that. It was good to even find a way through conversation even to see him laugh for a second in the midst of something so horrific. Like joking about basketball stuff. It was obviously devastating. There were a lot of tears today. But just to be able to kinda fight through that and have some kind of strenght through that is amazing. He’s such an amazing guy.”
Williams coached Anderson for three seasons in New Orleans, and their shared religion elevated their bond beyond the typical player-coach relationship. That bond proved to be critical in 2013 when Anderson’s girlfriend, Gia Allemand,took her life. Anderson leaned on Williams and his wife, Ingrid, staying with his coach and praying together the night of Allemand’s death.
Ingird Williams was able to understand what Anderson was going through that night; her brother took his own life shortly before Allemand’s death.
“For me, I felt like no one could relate to me. There was no way anyone could understand what I was going through. But this was the perfect person to be there for me, put her arm around me and tell me this isn't something you are going to understand and it's OK to feel the way that you are feeling,” Anderson told The Oklahoman. “ ... Then they were there for me for months after and I know if she was still here today, she'd still be there for me.”
Ingrid Williams died Wednesday evening following a car accident outside of downtown Oklahoma City the previous day. The driver of the other car, who was driving with her dog on her lap at the time of the crash, was also killed. Williams, 44, had three of her five kids in the car with her. Her children are expected to recover from their injuries.
“Just devastating,” Anderson told The Oklahoman of his reaction to the news. “ ... Hearing about the loss of anybody is hard. But just somebody that was so amazing and so instrumental for me getting through something in my life, just being there for me through the most crucial time in my life, she was right there by my side. So was Monty. They were inseparable. They made every decision together. Wherever Monty was, she was. What's hard is imagining their family dynamic without her. Because she was such a big part of that family. I can't even explain how big a part."
Anderson’s Pelicans teammates Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon joined him in visiting Williams Thursday at his home in Oklahoma City...
The Rockets could not check off the top line of their free-agent shopping list, but when they moved to their second goal Saturday, they jumped all over it.
The Rockets did not secure the star-level talent they wanted, with Atlanta center Al Horford opting to join the Boston Celtics. But they moved on to their quest to get the shooting they lacked and came away from a pair of recruiting meetings in Los Angeles with New Orleans free-agent forward Ryan Anderson and his teammate, guard Eric Gordon, both among the NBA's better shooters at their positions.
The Rockets landed Anderson, 28, with an offer of a four-year, $80 million deal before they reached agreement hours later with Gordon, 27, on a four-year, $53 million contract, according to two individuals with knowledge of the moves who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the agreements have not been announced. Players may not sign contracts with NBA teams until Thursday.
Both had been pursued by the Rockets often over the years. They had tried to trade for Anderson, 6-10, on several occasions, most notably when they sent Omer Asik to the Pelicans in 2013. They tried to sign Gordon, 6-4, in 2011 when he was considered one of the more coveted free agents in the NBA, only to be limited by injury issues in the years since.
Both also could bring the Rockets, who ranked 19th in 3-point shooting while taking the second-most 3s in the NBA, the perimeter shooting they sought. But both have also been held back by injury problems, playing a combined 173 games in the past three seasons. Gordon has been especially injury-prone, playing an average of 52.1 games per season.
Gordon averaged 15.2 points and 2.7 assists in 32.9 minutes per game last season. Anderson averaged 17 points and six rebounds in 30.4 minutes per game. Gordon has made 38.3 percent of his 3-pointers in his eight NBA seasons. Anderson, also an eight-year veteran, has made 37.7 percent of his 3s.
Anderson was considered a priority for the Rockets who have long sought to get range shooting at power forward, from the offseason work with Patrick Patterson and Luis Scola to improve their 3-point shooting, to the efforts of Donatas Motiejunas and Terrence Jones to bring that to the offense.
The spacing provided by a big man with 3-point range was considered especially crucial with James Harden one of the top penetrating ballhandlers in the NBA playing with pick-and-roll centers - from Dwight Howard to his presumed successor, Clint Capela - without shooting range.
Gordon's versatility in the backcourt also could help fill a void as a scorer at shooting guard when Harden is out and playing off the ball when Harden serves as the Rockets' primary ballhandler.
After signing Anderson and Gordon, the Rockets will have roughly $9 million in cap room, counting the space taken up in a cap hold to keep their rights to Motiejunas and Michael Beasley's partially guaranteed contract. With Howard's departure, they have just one center, Capela, signed and could use some of their remaining summer allowance on depth at center or could seek an additional point guard.
They also could bring back Motiejunas and play him at center, especially now that the roster is crowded with power forwards.
They had hoped to have Horford play both frontcourt spots, but after meeting with Horford and his representatives Friday in Atlanta, there was little momentum for the Rockets to be among his finalists by Saturday morning.
Their pursuit of Horford might have ended well before Horford's nine-year tenure in Atlanta was officially over, but Saturday afternoon he tweeted he would be joining the Boston Celtics.
Next best thing
Horford will sign a four-year, $113 million deal, a person with knowledge of the decision confirmed, earning the most a team other than the Hawks could offer.
By then, the Rockets' recruiting team had moved on to Los Angeles, where it had landed Howard in 2013.
They did not make that kind of a splash with Saturday's deals, but they did the next best thing, or at least the next thing on their summer to-do list.