The Brooklyn Nets are playing the long game: What they do now with their roster will be impacting them in the playoffs, where they’re expected to make a run at an NBA title. And with the March 25 trade deadline just over a month away, trade discussions are beginning to heat up.
The interest around one veteran defender is particularly warm, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Saturday.
Nets Interested in P.J. Tucker
During an appearance on NBA Countdown, Woj listed the Nets as one of several teams interested in Houston’s P.J. Tucker. Here’s a transcript of Woj’s comment on the subject in its entirety:
“The Lakers have been active. I know they’ve made calls about some wing players to see if there is 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, who the Lakers play tonight, Milwaukee, Brooklyn, several others. One thing I’m told is that Houston wants back not picks, but a player that they can plug back into their lineup.”
Tucker is a quintessential 3-and-D player, shooting 35.9% on 3-pointers for his career and providing exceptional versatility as an elite defender. He’s been described as the “undeniable glue” that holds the Rockets together, as well as a tough-minded defender who plays an important role in the locker room. And though the 35-year-old is among the league’s oldest players — heading into the 2020-21 season, he was the eighth-oldest player on an NBA roster — he’s also very durable. Since the 2012-13 season, the 6-foot-5 Tucker has played in the most games of any player in the NBA.
All of that works to make him a perfect fit for the Nets, who have been playing better defense of late but still stand to vastly improve on that end of the floor. Since trading for James Harden on January 14 and placing him alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the Nets have a league-best 120.6 offensive rating, but they rank fourth-worst in defensive rating (118.0) over that same span.
The Nets and Rockets just worked a massive four-team deal to land Harden in Brooklyn, so that familiarity between front offices could help here. So, too, could Tucker’s familiarity with Harden. The two have been overlapped in Houston for three seasons together.
One Analyst Calls Tucker a ‘Dream Target’ for Nets
Tucker has one year and $7.9 million remaining on his current contract. AS Wojnarowski noted, Houston doesn’t want picks in exchange for Tucker — they received a boatload of them in the Harden trade, after all — but a player that they can plug back into their lineup.
“Brooklyn needs to be targeting any and all role players on cheapish contracts who can come in and provide a pulse on the defensive end.
“Getting P.J. Tucker to reunite with Harden would be a dream target. The Nets can use Spencer Dinwiddie’s deal to match up salaries and still possess a collection of second-round picks to use as collateral.”