The Houston Rockets are the equivalent of a G-League team, at least if you listen to enough rumors. It’s a good problem to have considering the Miami Heat chose not to field one.
Heat president Pat Riley has to be laughing to himself in his bunker on Biscayne Boulevard as his team gets linked to every available player. The latest one is Rockets power forward PJ Tucker. The 35-year-old will become an unrestricted free agent in the 2021 offseason, so Houston would be wise to move him. Michael Scotto of HoopsHype mentioned the Heat and “maybe Boston” as two possible destinations in citing talks with “multiple executives.” The trade deadline for the rebooted season falls on March 25.
Multiple executives believe the Rockets will eventually trade PJ Tucker by the trade deadline, per @MikeAScotto
"He will have value in the East, especially to combat Giannis and Durant. I can see Miami going after PJ and maybe even Boston." pic.twitter.com/sokheYljQp
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) January 14, 2021
Meanwhile, Kelly Ilko of The Athletic added that “multiple teams have inquired” about Tucker. There is an outside shot the Rockets could offer the former second-round pick a contract extension, but it seems highly unlikely. The odds are they trade him and the Heat are in a prime salary-cap position to take on his nearly $8 million base salary.
Tucker is a savvy veteran who has averaged 7.3 points and 5.8 rebounds in 29.4 minutes per game for his career. He’s carved out a reputation as a lock-down defender, team leader, durable starter, and willing three-point shooter. He holds a 36.3% percentage from deep over 11 NBA seasons while playing in 663 career games (487 starts). The 6-foot-5, 245-pounder would pack a gritty one-two punch with Kelly Olynyk at the power forward spot.
Ever wonder why PJ Tucker has a 32 million dollar contract and is playing for Team USA? Here you go. Want to instantly be a better player/team? Just TALK pic.twitter.com/H84fPXiV8t
— Nate Launius (@NateLaunius) August 16, 2019
What’s the Trade Package for Tucker?
The asking price for Tucker may be more than what the Heat are willing to offer. Houston wants something “in the range of three second-round picks,” per The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, and may hold out for a first-rounder ahead of the trade deadline. Then again, it might be the perfect price since it saves them from parting with either Tyler Herro or Duncan Robinson.
PJ Tucker, asked if he feels wanted by the #Rockets: "Have you asked them? … You should ask them."
— Ben DuBose (@BenDuBose) December 14, 2020
Let’s be honest, the Rockets are self-imploding after James Harden forced his way out of town with increasing evidence that Victor Oladipo is already picking out his next destination. Tucker was “irate” about his contract situation back in November and thought he deserved a raise. He didn’t get one, so it only stands to reason that anger has festered. Look for him to be traded sooner rather than later.
LeBron James Avoids Talking About Harden Trade
Former Heat superstar LeBron James didn’t want to jump into the Harden conversation. The four-time world champion didn’t have “too much of a reaction” to the blockbuster that sent Harden to the Brooklyn Nets.
“Don’t really have too much of a reaction,” James told reporters. “Trades happened today and I couldn’t allow myself to indulge in that knowing that we had a game that we had to play tonight.”
LeBron shares his reaction (or lack thereof) to James Harden being traded to the Nets: "Don't really have too much of a reaction. … Trades happened today and I couldn't allow myself to indulge in that knowing that we had a game that we had to play tonight." pic.twitter.com/hjceBOUuKD
— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) January 14, 2021
The move slightly affects James’ life as it takes Harden out of the Western Conference, but his Los Angeles Lakers haven’t had much trouble dispatching the Rockets in recent years. It did put the final splinter in breaking up one of the NBA’s “Super Teams” with Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul already gone.
Remember, James sort of invented the three-star format when he decided he was “taking his talents” to South Beach to join forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. That trio famously lived up to expectations and won back-to-back championships for the Heat. Oh, the memories.
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