Bulls Considered ‘Ambitious’ Landing Spot for Former $31M Wing Defender

Chicago Bulls

Getty Head coach Billy Donovan of the Chicago Bulls shouts instructions to his team

One of the Chicago Bulls’ biggest deficiencies last season was toughness. But they could solve that by signing P.J. Tucker this offseason. Not that DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine are not tough.

Tucker just plays with certain high intensity all of the time which enhances his particular skill set.

That is why Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale picked Tucker as an “ambitious” target in free agency. The Miami Heat forward is currently mired in a 2-2 tie with the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round of the playoffs.

Tucker averaged 7.6 points while shooting a career-high 41.5% from three with 5.5 rebounds, and 2.1 assists while starting 70 of his 71 appearances during the regular season. He is averaging 8.3 points and canning 48.1% of his triples with 5.4 boards and 1.6 assists in the postseason.

P.J. Tucker Checks Multiple Boxes

Sports Illustrated’s Chris Herring broke down the Bulls’ needs after they were bounced from the playoffs.

Chicago desperately needs is a big, credible wing or two that can at least pretend to obstruct a player like Giannis Antetokounmpo or Kevin Durant now and then…it’s a safe bet that the Bulls will be on the lookout for players with Allen’s skill set as a perimeter shooter.

Tucker held Antetokounmpo to eight points on 3-of-12 shooting with seven assists to seven turnovers in three regular-season meetings, per NBA.com matchup data.

Durant was more successful going for 18 points on 70.0% shooting in two games.

This postseason, Tucker hounded Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young for five games in the first round. He held the mercurial point guard 28.6% shooting from the floor.

Tucker was a part of the reason James Harden got off to a slow start for the Philadelphia 76ers’ second round of the playoffs as well as switching onto Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey.

Versatility on both ends makes Tucker appealing as Favale explained.

He remains a borderline every-position defender, drilled 41.5 percent of his threes this season, and can sponge up reps as a small-ball 5. The Miami Heat even have him making actual decisions with the ball on offense.

Passing the Game Down

The biggest thing that Tucker could bring might not come from him on the court. At 37 years old, Tucker is still playing at a high level and seeing ample minutes in Miami’s rotation. But the best thing about potentially adding him is what it could mean for Patrick Williams.

Williams heads into his first full offseason with sights on finding consistency with his aggression. Those are two things that Tucker has built his entire career off of.

If there is any faith in the “summer from hell” with DeRozan paying off, then adding Tucker should be viewed similarly. Foundationally, Tucker is the exact kind of player the Bulls want Williams to be.

As Peter Dewey of Heat Nation wrote, Tucker relishes the opportunity to pass on what he has learned, telling younger teammates during a January win over the Portland Trail Blazers, “You’re on an audition every single night, and you gotta step up and help guys be able to win”.

Tucker was referring to a group of players on 10-day contracts, a plight he can relate to in an NBA career that has taken him to China and back.

Williams has mentioned something similar in his exit interview.

Testing the Bulls’ Front Office

Favale is quick to point out the difficulty the Bulls might have in trying to lure Tucker away from Miami this offseason. And it is not just because he has a $7.4 million player option for next season, per Spotrac.com, which Favale notes the Bulls could beat with the full mid-level exception.

Prying him away from an organization captained by Pat Riley is a harrowing endeavor…But his short-term market should be around the non-taxpayer MLE after all he did for the Heat this season.

Tucker has spoken of being disrespected by the Bucks, with whom he won a championship last season. Perhaps the Bulls can also interest him in the opportunity to make a difference when the two teams meet up four times next season.

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