Heat’s Newly Signed Forward Named ‘Weakest Link’ on Team: B/R

P.J. Tucker

Getty P.J. Tucker #17 of the Milwaukee Bucks reacts to a foul call during the second half in Game Four of the NBA Finals against the Phoenix Suns at Fiserv Forum on July 14, 2021.

The Miami Heat were not messing around when free agency started up this summer. After landing Kyle Lowry from the Toronto Raptors and resigning sharpshooter Duncan Robinson in a record-breaking deal, the Heat successfully stole P.J. Tucker from the Milwaukee Bucks.

While predictions made in September are simply educated guesses, barring any injuries or illnesses, it’s hard to imagine the Heat’s starting lineup being anything else than what’s already being projected.

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Both Bleacher Report and South Florida Sun Sentinel‘s Ira Winderman have predicted the following mix of veteran stars and new player additions will make up the Heat’s starting five: Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Lowry, Robinson, and Tucker.

While that sounds like a stacked starting five, Bleacher Report‘s Greg Swartz believes Tucker is the team’s “weakest link,” a player for whom head coach Erik Spoelstra should have a back-up ready. Swartz wrote:

No Miami Heat starter will contribute less offensively this season than Tucker, whose job at age 36 is to make life hell for whoever he’s guarding that night.
 Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry will handle Miami’s primary scoring and playmaking duties, Duncan Robinson spreads the floor, and Bam Adebayo anchors the defense for one of the NBA’s best starting units.
 If Tucker’s defense slips and his offensive shortcomings can no longer be overlooked, Miami has a few options.

If Tucker starts slipping, Swartz suggests Spoelstra instead plugs in Markieff Morris, 32, a free agent pickup from the Los Angeles Lakers this summer, or 22-year-old KZ Okpala, who needs to show huge improvement this year in order to keep his job on the Heat’s roster.

'P.J. Tucker is playing late-'90s/early 2000s defense on KD' – Matt Barnes | The JumpThe Jump reacts to P.J. Tucker's physical defense vs. Kevin Durant in the Milwaukee Bucks vs. Brooklyn Nets series and discusses if he will be able to continue that kind of defense for the rest of the series. ☑️ Subscribe to ESPN+: plus.espn.com/​​​​​ 📱Get the ESPN App: espn.com/espn/apps/espn​​​​​ 🏀 Subscribe to NBA on ESPN on…2021-06-14T20:20:42Z

However, despite Tucker’s age, the veteran power forward is still a formidable force on the court. It was only a few months ago that Tucker found a way to completely shut down Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant, one of the NBA’s all-time best scorers during the Eastern Conference Finals.

Miami Signed Tucker to a 2-year, $15 Million Contract

PJ tucker

GettyP.J. Tucker #17 of the Milwaukee Bucks puts up a shot over Jae Crowder #99 of the Phoenix Suns during the second half of game one of the NBA Finals at Phoenix Suns Arena on July 06, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Even after landing Lowry, (three years, $85 million), retaining Robinson (five years, $90 million), and signing Tucker Tucker a two-year $15 million deal, the Heat were still able to stay below the $136 million luxury tax.

While Miami had sizable cap space to play with this summer, the Bucks were “depleted of most meaningful draft capital after splurging for Jrue Holiday last summer,” Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale wrote. “And they flexed smart cap creativity in their deadline to acquire P.J. Tucker.”

Like with Lowry, Miami had long been interested in Tucker. The Heat attempted to acquire the veteran power forward while negotiating the trade that brought Victor Oladipo to Miami from the Houston Rockets in March.

Miami Heat’s 2021-22 NBA Roster So Far

The Heat said goodbye to Kendrick Nunn, Andre Iguodala, Trevor Ariza, and Nemanja Bjelica this summer, and lost Goran Dragic and Precious Achiuwa in the deal that brought Lowry to Miami.

While the Heat could add a 15th player before the season starts, it seems unlikely. Per NBA rules, the Heat are also not required to add a 15th player.

In addition to Tucker, the following 13 players are locked in for the Heat’s 2021-22 NBA season:

Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, Udonis Haslem, Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, KZ Okapala, Dewayne Dedmon, Markieff Morris, Victor Oladipo, and Omer Yurtseven.

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