$33 Million Champion Hints at Possible Return to Heat on Instagram

PJ Tucker

Getty PJ Tucker

The Miami Heat have taken up opportunities with former alumni. Dwyane Wade, Alonzo Mourning, and Eddie Jones all came back to the Heat after they left either via trade or in free agency. Another Heat alum hinted that he may be on his way back: PJ Tucker.

Tucker hinted at a possible return when he posted a picture of himself driving along the Miami highway on his Instagram story. In that story, Tucker posted the caption, “Home sweet home.” Tucker’s story was aggregated by the Heat X account Heat Nation.

Before joining the Heat, Tucker won a championship with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021. Tucker played for the Heat for one season during the 2021-22 season. Tucker helped the Heat reach the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals before getting a more lucrative deal with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Currently, Tucker plays for the Los Angeles Clippers, but Tucker has not played for them since November 27. Because the Clippers have not featured Tucker in their rotation, he is a buyout prime candidate. No matter which team he plays for, Tucker is owed $11 million for the 2023-24 season and $11.5 million for the 2024-25 season.

The Heat can’t add anyone they want on the open market because they crossed the NBA’s first tax apron. However, they can add

Clippers ‘Gauging Trade Market’ on PJ Tucker: Report

PJ Tucker may be on a new team before the NBA Trade Deadline passes on February 8. HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto reported that the Clippers have explored what Tucker’s market is.

“Amid the hot streak, the Clippers are gauging the trade market on Bones Hyland and PJ Tucker, league sources told HoopsHype,” Scotto wrote in a January 31 story.

Scotto detailed that Tucker wants to help a team but does not want the Clippers to buy him out.

“Tucker hasn’t played since Nov. 27 and has been frustrated with his role and wants to help a good team. Should the Clippers fail to find a suitable trade partner, Tucker is not expected to discuss a buyout, league sources told HoopsHype. The veteran forward has an $11.54 million player option for next season, as noted on our Clippers salaries page.”

Since the Clippers haven’t played him, Tucker does not hold much trade value, if any. The Heat could acquire him, but they would have to mess with their rotation to pull that off. That would include trading the likes of Kevin Love and/or Caleb Martin, among others, to get him.

Clippers ‘Registering Interest’ in PJ Washington: Report

Because trading for PJ Tucker would be tricky for the Heat to pull off, signing him off the buyout market is the likelier option. One way that could open up is if he’s traded to a non-playoff team with little use for him, thus leading to a buyout, like the Charlotte Hornets.

A February 4 report from NBA Insider Marc Stein could make that come to fruition.

“There were some fresh rumbles circulating this weekend about the Clippers, despite their own limited trade optionality, registering interest in Charlotte’s P.J. Washington,” Stein reported.

The Clippers could use Tucker’s contract to match salaries with Washington. Since the Hornets are 10-37 and the playoffs are likely out of the question, trading Washington for Tucker could then lead to Tucker hitting the buyout market.

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