After the Houston Rockets traded James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets, rival teams circled them as potential sellers before the trade deadline.
The most likely player on the move is veteran PJ Tucker. The two parties have reportedly been unable to come to terms on a contract extension and multiple teams have called to inquire about his availability. According to The Athletic’s Sam Amick and Kelly Iko, the 35-year-old is “not opposed” to a trade.
On a recent episode of The Hoop Collective, basketball insider Brian Windhorst hinted at what it would take to trade for Tucker (via ESPN):
“The word on the street that I heard that has been floated [for his value]: they either want a first-round pick or three seconds, which I’ve never heard that arithmetic done. Three seconds … There are fifteen teams that are somewhat impacted from trading firsts and eight who can’t really trade any, sort of narrows the market. Most of the competitors, most of the teams who are playoff teams this year, are encumbered from trading their pick.”
Windhorst mentioned the Philadelphia 76ers (who “covet” his services), Denver Nuggets (who “have always liked” Tucker but reportedly haven’t reached out yet) and Toronto Raptors (who originally drafted him in 2006) as destinations who are not barred from trading their first-round pick and could be interested in adding Tucker in their pursuit of the playoffs.
After the Harden trade, an NBA executive told our own Michael Scotto that the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics make sense as suitors for Tucker as well. The list is presumably much longer, however, considering every contender could use a player like Tucker.
Rockets explain why the value of PJ Tucker goes beyond statistics https://t.co/OBWiRluEeD
— The Rockets Wire (@TheRocketsWire) February 1, 2021
Windhorst clarified that this may have only been the asking price that Houston told one team during initial conversations to start the negotiations. But after the Harden trade, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor also reported Tucker’s price as three second-rounders.
ESPN’s Bobby Marks added that it is unlikely that front offices will offer a first-round pick for Tucker or other veterans also on expiring contracts like Derrick Rose. But he said that he would not be surprised to hear about more teams offering packages centered around second-round picks.
Ultimately, if Tucker is eventually moved, it sounds like a front office that is willing to offer three second-round picks could convince the Rockets to pull the trigger.