NBA rumors: PJ Tucker on not re-signing with Bucks: 'I was pretty surprised'

Tucker declined to discuss the offer he received from the Bucks in free agency. “I was pretty surprised,” Tucker said of not ending up back with the Bucks. “You win a championship and you’re part of winning something special like that, you would expect that. A chance of it not happening? There’s a chance. It didn’t happen. Does it happen a lot? I don’t think so, not in that situation, not in those situations. You watch role guys in series in the past, usually those guys go back. So I’ll take my situation as just that, a particular situation. I move on from it and keep it going.”

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Tucker was successful in helping the Bucks win a championship in July, but just three months later he’ll be facing his former team as a member of the Heat. “I don’t even want to talk about it,” Tucker said when asked about specifics regarding his departure from Milwaukee. “It’s that far removed from my mind now. Like it’s something that happened. Everything worked out. I’m happy where I’m at. And I move on.”
But Thursday’s matchup against the Bucks feels somewhat personal for at least one player on the Heat’s roster, and he actually won an NBA championship with Milwaukee last season: Veteran forward P.J. Tucker. “I mean, come on, we’re competitors. I was part of that,” Tucker said this week of facing his former team on Thursday at FTX Arena (8 p.m., Bally Sports Sun). “To not be back? For sure. You know it’s like natural human behavior. Definitely, I want to win this game better than I want to win any other game. Yes, I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t.”
Your Miami HEAT announced today that they have signed forward PJ Tucker. Per club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“PJ Tucker is the perfect addition to this team,” said HEAT President Pat Riley. “He brings both shooting and most importantly, the ability to defend a lot of perimeter players. We love his versatility in order to put a defensive team on the court, where all five guys can defend, while also having enough shooting and scoring to win games.”
They decided against paying a higher tax bill and now have one less contributor on the roster. Even if Tucker regressed as a 37-year-old, which doesn’t necessarily seem likely as evidenced by his strong postseason following a subpar regular season, his contract may have been a useful piece of salary flotsam to make a deal for a different contributor on a double-digit annual contract figure. Now, the Bucks do not have the man that coined and then embodied the Bucks’ “We Dogs” postseason mantra, the salary that could have been useful in future roster construction and the player that spent the postseason putting his body on the line helping defend the opponent’s best players. And Horst has to figure out how to use the taxpayer mid-level exception to find a difference-maker and help fill out the Bucks’ rotation as they attempt to repeat as NBA champions.

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It appears the Bucks have a strong shot at keeping Tucker. He reportedly wants a multi-year deal for at least $8 million. According to league sources, the Bucks will be offering him a two-year, $20 million contract. “I can’t imagine any team giving him more than the Bucks will,’’ an NBA executive said Sunday. “Most teams wouldn’t even give him that much. He’s a good defender and that’s it. No offense. And he’s near the end of the road. He’s what? Thirty six?
The reigning champion Bucks are believed to have interest in re-signing versatile defender P.J. Tucker on a deal framework of two years, $20 million, sources said. There's also a belief that Bobby Portis and Milwaukee hope to strike a deal.
In the past Rosas has shown interest in P.J. Tucker, who won a title in Milwaukee and will be a free agent, and Larry Nance Jr., who is widely believed to be available in Cleveland. John Collins appears to be unlikely at this point, but Danilo Gallinari could be an option with Atlanta possibly needing to unload some salary to make room to retain Collins.
Soon, however, Tucker will have a choice to make. He’s at the end of a four-year, Tucker signed a 4 year, $31.9 million with the Rockets, or $8 million a year. Now an unrestricted free agent with a ring and much higher profile. He’s also the only real free agent linked to the Nets in the rumor mill. As Alex Schiffer writes Thursday... "I’ve heard P.J. Tucker’s name come up a lot. The Nets have been interested in him since before the Harden trade. But after the Bucks’ championship, does he want to pull a Ray Allen and leave one contender for another in the same conference? Tucker is tight with Harden and Durant, bodyguard issues aside, and played with Nets assistant Royal Ivey at Texas. He loved playing for Mike D’Antoni in Houston."
The Bucks have, from a salary cap perspective, the best chance of keeping another key free agent, PJ Tucker. Giannis Antetokounmpo gave PJ a glowing review during the Brooklyn series. Giannis said, “He keeps making everything tough on KD (Kevin Durant). He’s vocal. He’s a leader. He pushes us to be great. He’s definitely a big piece of this organization and this team. He’s going to keep helping us. We definitely need him moving forward.” … To me, there’s no reason why, from a financial perspective, Tucker shouldn’t be back with the Bucks.
I think he’s best valued on a playoff-type team. Most of those teams are only going to have the mid-level exception to work with, including a few exceptions like the New York Knicks, for example. I think Milwaukee has the best chance to keep him… I think PJ’s going to have suitors from other teams around the league. I think declining that two-year, $17 million extension offer (From Houston), I think he’s going to end up doing better than that after his playoff run.
Milwaukee has PJ Tucker’s full Bird rights so they won’t have any issues re-signing him. Like DiVincenzo, Tucker could benefit from the Bucks’ lack of tradeable salaries. What’s also helping him is that the Bucks have no means of replacing his salary slot if he doesn’t return. He reportedly declined two-year, $17 million extension with Houston that was only $10 million guaranteed. Tucker earning around the same amount of money annually as he’s been earning recently is reasonable on a short-term deal.
Brooklyn has maintained an interest in Tucker dating back to the Nets' James Harden trade talks. Miami also discussed adding Tucker in variations of the Heat's negotiations for Victor Oladipo, sources said. Add the Lakers, Warriors, Nuggets and Jazz as teams that could vie for Tucker's services too. Minnesota, led of course by former Rockets executive Gersson Rosas, has coveted Tucker dating back to the 2020 draft, sources said, and the Wolves have continued searching for front court improvements.
Bobby Portis’s short but productive career as a Milwaukee Buck is winding down. P.J. Tucker, whose career with the Bucks has been even shorter than Portis’ and certainly less productive, also appears to be approaching the finish line in Milwaukee. Messrs. Portis and Tucker will become free agents after this season and neither one, in the estimation of several NBA officials, figures to be donning a Bucks uni for the 2021-2022 season.
11. Veteran forward PJ Tucker still hopes to come to an agreement on an extension with Houston, league sources told The Athletic. Tucker initially expressed these desires about his long-term future last summer. Both sides are said to be on the same page in terms of wanting Tucker to stick around past the 2020-21 season — the last year of his current deal — when he’ll be making $7.97 million.
Shams Charania: Final year of Tucker’s four-year, $32M deal will now be guaranteed. Tucker has emerged as Houston’s starting center recently.
Shams Charania: Free agent P.J. Tucker has reached agreement on a deal with the Houston Rockets, league sources tell The Vertical.
Jonathan Feigen: Rockets will sign Tucker using their mid-level exception, source said. Reason it was important to do the trade for Paul, to have full MLE.
Michael Scotto: Toronto Raptors remain interested in re-signing P.J. Tucker and will meet with him on Saturday, league sources told Basketball Insiders.
Point guard aside, the Knicks are interested in tough-minded veterans such as P.J. Tucker, according to sources, and are looking, in particular, for players who can compete on both ends of the floor.
The club has preliminary interest in two-way veteran and free agent P.J. Tucker, per league sources. Jeff Hornacek coached Tucker in Phoenix and praised Tucker last season as a strong locker-room leader and intense defender.
“Just somewhere that fits me,” Tucker told Basketball Insiders. “Phoenix has been great to me. I’ve been here five years. It’s been a great five years, somewhere I would love to be for a long time. So places like this, where I just fit and they understand me and let me be myself. It’s a big factor for me.”
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December 8, 2021 | 8:24 pm EST Update