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Thunder shut down Al Horford for rest of season

The five-time All-Star will no longer be active as OKC looks to give younger players opportunities in the rotation.

Al Horford plans to train at the team facility, but he won’t play in Oklahoma City’s final 28 games,

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Thunder said Saturday that veteran center Al Horford will remain inactive for the rest of the season as the team’s young talent develops.

Horford, 34, averaged 14.2 points and 6.7 rebounds this season. The five-time All-Star will remain with the team and train, but he will not travel.

“When I arrived, I understood the direction of the team, we had a great individual plan in place for me, and I feel like as a result I’ve played really good basketball for the Thunder,” Horford said in a statement. “At the same time, I know what it’s like to be a young, aspiring player, and at this point in the season I understand how important playing meaningful minutes is for their careers and their development.”

Moses Brown, a 7-foot-1 two-way player who played 14 games in the G League this season, has shown promise with the Thunder. The second-year player from UCLA has averaged 11.4 points, 11.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks the past eight games for Oklahoma City while shooting 58% from the field.

Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said Horford has been a critical part of the development process for Brown and Isaiah Roby. Horford was impressed after Brown had 19 points and 12 rebounds against Memphis on Wednesday,

“Very special the way he’s been able to step in and have an impact, because it’s not so much about the numbers that he may be putting up,” he said. “Those are great. But just the impact that he’s having on the game. Defensively, his presence is felt. Rebounding-wise his presence is felt. He continues to get better finishing around the basket. I’ve just been very impressed with him — how composed he stays, how willing he is to learn.”