Ever since the Boston Celtics acquired the Traded Player Exception (TPE) via its Gordon Hayward trade with the Charlotte Hornets, Houston Rockets forward/center PJ Tucker is a name that’s been tied to the president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and the Celtics.
Tucker, 35, is regarded as one of the league’s better dynamic defenders – a veteran sparkplug, whose versatility on defense would certainly strengthen the Celtics in their time of need. Head coach Brad Stevens is without two of his best backcourt defenders in Marcus Smart and rookie Payton Pritchard.
ESPN analyst Brian Windhorst, host of Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective podcast, talked about the likelihood that the Rockets will part ways with Tucker and more importantly, for the Celtics’ concerns, what the speculative asking price would be.
Windhorst: One Source Says Rockets’ PJ Tucker’s Pricetag Is Worth Three Second-Round Picks
According to one source, it wouldn’t cost Boston a whole lot.
“PJ Tucker’s been frustrated with his contract. You never know, maybe in the offseason, he signs; they have his full Bird rights, whatever. But, PJ may be a guy that walks at the end of the year, and, obviously, he has some value,” Windhorst said. “The word on the street I’m hearing is his value – they either want a first-round pick or three seconds (second-round picks) – which I never heard that arithmetic done.”
Windhorst added why the Rockets could be low-balling potential suitors.
“I think that’s because there’s 15 teams that are somewhat impacted by trading firsts, eight (teams) that can’t trade really any,” Windhorst added. “So, it narrows the market and most of the competitors, most teams that are playoff teams, this year, are incumbent from trading their pick. The teams that are not are Philly, Denver, Toronto, the rest of them can’t trade. So, obviously, you’re not trading for PJ Tucker, unless you’re trading for him for the playoffs. I don’t if you’re getting three second-round picks, (laughs), I mean, stranger things have happened.
“And who knows; that could have been just one team that got to my ear, in their efforts, but that’s what I heard they’re asking price has been as they’ve had their conversations.”
If there’s one NBA GM out there willing to line up so many second-round picks, I can’t help but think of Ainge and the reported offer he made for a prospect named Justise Winslow not too long ago. Fortunately, for Celtics fans, six draft picks, including four first-rounders, for the right to draft the Duke prospect at no. 9 in the 2015 NBA Draft, wasn’t enticing enough for the Charlotte Hornets to bite.
Should The Celtics Trade For PJ Tucker?
This rumor could have Ainge’s name written all over it. If Tucker is actually asking for his walking papers, as one report has indicated, Boston could send a pair of future second-rounders (via Oklahoma City’s 2021 & Charlotte’s 2022) along with one of its own in either year. Still, Windhorst thinks potential suitors should be wary of Tucker’s play at this stage of his career.
Or, he could be a big reason why the Rockets have regained momentum in the Western Conference after rattling off six consecutive wins in a row.
“PJ’s not had the greatest season; he’s been a little disgruntled,” Windhorst explained. “Hopefully, he’s a part of the defense that’s been playing so well that’s gotten them back to .500.”
Tucker’s averaging 5.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1 steal in 30.8 minutes per game this season.
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