Sixers Give Key Update on Injury to Veteran Starter

PJ Tucker, Sixers

Getty P.J. Tucker #17 of the Philadelphia 76ers and Jaden Ivey #23 of the Detroit Pistons collide during the second quarter at Wells Fargo Center on December 21, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Philadelphia 76ers fans can breathe a little easier after veteran big man P.J. Tucker was forced to leave the team’s February 13 win over the Houston Rockets with a calf injury.

Tucker left the game after playing just seven minutes, with the team saying he was experiencing calf tightness. The 37-year-old did not return during the 123-104 win, but head coach Doc Rivers said afterward that the injury was not too much of a worry and Tucker is not expected to be too impacted going forward.

Rivers Says ‘Nothin Alarming’ Over Tucker’s Injury

Speaking to reporters after Monday’s game, Rivers said he kept Tucker out of the game for precautionary reasons and that it would not be a long-term injury for the starting forward.

“Nothing alarming,” Rivers said, via USA Today’s Sixers Wire. “Just calf got tight. When you hear that word ‘calf’, you stop immediately. He’s fine. He could’ve played, wanted to play, but we said ‘no’.”

Rivers also hinted that the team would continue to be careful with Tucker. The veteran has missed just two games this season, starting in all 54 appearances.

“That’s not an injury — you don’t play with that,” Rivers said.

Tucker is averaging 3.3 points and 3.9 rebounds in 25.8 minutes per game this season.

The Sixers face one more important contest before heading into the All-Star break, hosting the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday. That could give Tucker the opportunity for more than a week of rest for his sore calf before the team returns against the Memphis Grizzlies on February 23.

Sixers Bring in Help for the Frontcourt

The Sixers could have an opportunity to lighten Tucker’s workload after the acquisition of big man Dewayne Dedmon this week. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Philadelphia signed the free-agent center after he was waived by the San Antonio Spurs. Dedmon had been sent to San Antonio in a trade by the Miami Heat. Dedmon had a stint with the Sixers in the past, and also played with Tucker on the Heat.

Sixers president of basketball Daryl Morey said in a press conference Friday that the team wanted to boost the depth behind Joel Embiid.

“I think we have a lot of versatility with the lineup,” Morey said. “(Head coach Doc Rivers) does a very good figuring it out. Just to be fair, I think what most people worry about is when Joel is off (the court). How are we going to play when Joel is off? I think we’re going to improve that. That hasn’t been as good as we want it to be.”

As Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia noted, Rivers had noted the team’s lack of size on the bench this season but said he felt comfortable with veterans like Tucker in the frontcourt.

“Well, this is the first year we don’t have a 7-footer as a backup,” Rivers said. “We had (Dwight Howard) and (Andre Drummond). But we have a collection of guys with P.J., Paul Reed, Trez. We feel very comfortable in that role. … With the collection, we feel very comfortable in what we have.”

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