With just over a month until the 2021 NBA trade deadline, contenders are looking to tweak their rosters, and apparently some of them have the same target in mind.
The Bucks and Lakers are part of a group of teams interested in Rockets forward P.J. Tucker, according to multiple reports. The 35-year-old hasn’t produced eye-popping numbers during his time in Houston (6.6 points, 5.8 rebounds per game over the last four seasons), but he has consistently demonstrated his value as a switchable defender, spot-up shooter and leader in the locker room. Those skills make him a great fit for any franchise chasing a championship.
The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor recently reported on the situation in Milwaukee:
League sources told me in November that the Bucks were in pursuit of P.J. Tucker from the Rockets. Their interest remains today. Tucker would absolutely help. He is a stout defender who could thrive in small-ball lineups next to Giannis. Tucker turns 36 in May and will be a free agent this offseason, but the trade possibilities are limited with an empty asset cupboard.
And ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski detailed the latest news out of Los Angeles:
The Lakers have been active. I know they’ve made calls about some wing players to see if there’s some shooting available out there. Another player they’re interested in: P.J. Tucker, from the Houston Rockets. There’s a lot of interest among contenders in Tucker, who’s in the last year of his deal. The Miami Heat … Milwaukee, Brooklyn, several others. One thing I’m told is Houston wants back, not picks, but a player that they can plug back into their lineup.
As both O’Connor and Wojnarowski noted, Tucker is in the final year of his contract, making just under $8 million after he reportedly declined an extension offer from the Rockets. While trading for Tucker would be a win-now move, potential suitors would have to factor in his impending free agency when determining how much they’re willing to give up. Houston’s asking price could be high considering the number of interested parties.
If the Bucks, Lakers and others feel Tucker will improve their title chances, though, they may be prepared to pay that price. Figuring out how to match salaries and agreeing on which players are part of a Tucker trade could present some issues, but you can never discount the creativity of NBA front offices when the pressure of the trade deadline is bearing down on them.