The prized addition of the Philadelphia 76ers offseason was PJ Tucker. Rumors have connected the Sixers to the veteran for quite some time and the Sixers ultimately handed him on a three-year deal worth $33 million with the hopes he will elevate their postseason play. While the Sixers are currently under investigation for tampering surrounding the addition, the bottom line is he is a member of the team. Tucker sat front and center and hinted that he had hoped to join the Sixers dating back before this season.
The new member of the organization had warm thoughts surrounding Philadelphia and showed his excitement for coming to the organization. Tucker raised some eyebrows when he stated that this was not the first season he explored the opportunity as he and James Harden have been eyeing it as a destination:
James Harden’s Route to Philly
This was something that James Harden acknowledged upon his arrival as well. In his opening press conference following his arrival last year, Harden explained to reporters, “Originally when I was going through everything I was going through in Houston, Philly was my first choice. It just didn’t happen.” The superstar was traded to the Brooklyn Nets for a haul of prospects and picks which have helped jumpstart the Rockets’ rebuild.
The trio of Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving did not come together in the way it was hoped for the Nets. In total, the three stars played just 16 games together and Harden ultimately forced himself out. The Sixers landed the superstar in the trade built around Ben Simmons and the former MVP made it to the destination he desired.
PJ Tucker’s Route to Philly
With James Harden remaining on his long-term contract throughout this process, he was more handcuffed in his ability to switch teams. In contrast, Tucker has been on much shorter deals throughout his career and the Sixers will be the sixth NBA team he has played for in his career.
Amid the deconstruction of the Harden-era Rockets, Tucker was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks. While his play may not have jumped out on the stat sheet, the veteran played 29.6 minutes per game throughout their postseason run. Tucker proved to be an important part of the team’s success and helped them to earn an NBA championship as a result.
Following the championship, Tucker elected to sign a free agent deal with the Miami Heat. The window in which he was traded and this free agent opportunity seemed to be what Tucker was alluding to in his press conference. He declined a player option with the Heat, who notably knocked the Sixers out of last year’s postseason, in order to take his talents to Philadelphia.
The 37-year-old spoke highly about several of his new teammates and put it, “this is like coming back home for me,” when talking about Philadelphia. Tucker played an important role in the Harden and Daryl Morey-led Rockets and has played in 10 or more postseason games in each of the past six years.
The Sixers will be counting on his abilities deep in the postseason and it is hoped he will be a key to getting the team over the second-round hump. The theme of the offseason has been finding winning players with toughness and these are qualities that Tucker personifies. It may have taken longer than he hoped to get his chance to play in Philly, but he has finally arrived and is set to team up with James Harden once again.