It appears the Houston Rockets are on the verge of trading P.J. Tucker but the question is whether it will be to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported the Rockets are likely going to deal Tucker “sooner rather than later,” but the Lakers are not the only team in contention for the big man.
“The Rockets have a veteran player who has the intrigue of many of the league’s contenders: Forward PJ Tucker,” Charania detailed. “The Nets, Bucks, Heat, Nuggets and Lakers are expressing interest in Tucker, sources said. Multiple teams have sensed a deal could develop sooner rather than later for Tucker, but the timing is likely dependent on the Rockets’ asking price. As of now, Houston has sought a young player back in a trade, sources said. Tucker, 35, is a versatile forward who’s able to defend multiple positions.”
Teams have until the NBA trade deadline on March 25 to complete deals. Charania’s latest report indicates Tucker may be heading out of Houston well before the deadline.
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The Lakers Are Reportedly Competing With the Nets, Bucks & Heat Among Others for a Tucker Trade
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the same list of suitors for Tucker with the exception of the Nuggets. The Lakers, Nets, Bucks and Heat have all “expressed interest” in Tucker, per Wojnarowski.
What would a Lakers-Rockets deal with Tucker look like? ESPN’s Bobby Marks detailed the “lone option” offer the Lakers have to pull off a deal for Tucker within the salary cap constraints.
“For example, the Lakers’ lone option to acquire the Rockets’ P.J. Tucker ($7.9 million) is to send out $7 million in salary (a combination of Wesley Matthews, Alfonzo McKinnie and Jared Dudley) and still have enough money to sign a free agent to fill out the roster after the imbalance trade,” Marks explained.
Tucker is in the final season of a four-year, $31.8 million contract with a reasonable $7.9 million salary, per Spotrac. Heading into the All-Star break, Tucker is averaging 4.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, .9 steals and .6 block in 32 starts with the Rockets.
The Lakers Have Also Been Linked to Andre Drummond & Hassan Whiteside
The Lakers could end up passing on a potential trade for Tucker and wait to sign other players from the buyout market. According to the Los Angeles Times, NBA executives have linked the Lakers to Andre Drummond and Hassan Whiteside.
“Rival scouts and executives believe the Lakers are looking for upgrades in their frontcourt,” the Los Angeles Times detailed. “Obviously, Cleveland’s Andre Drummond would be high on their wish list if bought out. Rival executives have wondered if the Lakers could either try to add Sacramento’s Hassan Whiteside or maybe even reunite with JaVale McGee if the former Laker gets bought out and becomes a free agent.”
The Lakers could also use some more shooters on the roster, so it is not definitive the team will prioritize a big man. Marks detailed a list of potential players who are buyout candidates that would be a fit for the Lakers.
“Some names to keep an eye on in the buyout market if they are not traded are Wayne Ellington, Trevor Ariza, JJ Redick, Alec Burks, Mike Muscala, Reggie Bullock, Ed Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Elfrid Payton and Tucker,” Marks noted.