Milwaukee Bucks: Grades and reactions from the P.J. Tucker trade

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MARCH 26 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MARCH 26 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo
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Between a heavyweight conference matchup and a surprising trade, what a thrilling night it was for Milwaukee Bucks basketball Wednesday night.

Just moments before tip-off against the Philadelphia 76ers, it was first announced by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that the Bucks had made a move for disgruntled forward P.J. Tucker from the Houston Rockets. Despite Milwaukee missing several rotational players from the lineup due to the trade, the game went on.

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Milwaukee’s move for Tucker made it hard to focus on the game, largely because they looked abysmal from the jump, logging a season-low 31 points at halftime. Facing a 19-point deficit at one point, the Bucks rallied back to win in an overtime classic with a final score of 109-105. The win helped the Bucks improve their record to 25-14 on the season, gaining ground on Philadelphia for the top spot in the East standings. Now, it appears that defensive reinforcements are on the way.

While the trade is centered around moving parts between the Bucks and Rockets, the Phoenix Suns were also able to sneak in and make an under-the-radar move that could pay dividends down the road. With that being said, let’s look at the details of the trade that went down last night and give it an overall grade for the Bucks.

Milwaukee Bucks: Grades and reactions for the P.J. Tucker trade — What they traded for

General manager Jon Horst brought one of the most highly coveted pieces on the trade market to Milwaukee with the P.J. Tucker deal Wednesday night.

While the forward is not a superstar in any right, he is a robust defender, and that is exactly what this team has been searching for in recent weeks. Even at 35 years old, Tucker provides a reputable presence on the defensive side of the ball, and that will be pivotal for the Bucks as they continue experimenting with their schemes.

Head coach Mike Budenholzer has embraced an open mind more frequently this year, oftentimes letting his players switch on defense. Typically, that would be out of the question, but the addition of Tucker signals that it could become the new normal.

The veteran gives the Bucks a more versatile piece that is more switchable than Bobby Portis or Brook Lopez, which will be pivotal in close games. Despite standing at just 6’5″, Tucker logged a decent portion of his minutes at center in the latter half of the season for Houston and could do so for Milwaukee or play the four while Giannis slides to the five in certain scenarios.

Offensively, the Bucks brought in one of the best corner 3-point shooters to ever hit the hardwood. Shooting 38.9 percent from the corners over the last three seasons, Tucker gives Giannis and the rest of the Bucks a reliable kick-out threat when camped out in the corner.

However, it should not be overlooked that the forward is having one of the least productive seasons of his career. Averaging 4.4 points on .366/.314/.783 shooting splits, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game, Tucker has seen better days. Still, perhaps a change of scenery was needed after he and Houston came to a disagreement about his contract situation, and this opportunity could be a breath of fresh air.

Furthermore, the Bucks were able to keep Tucker away from opposing contenders within the conference like the Brooklyn Nets or Philadelphia 76ers. Milwaukee will now have another versatile defensive piece to throw at those teams in a potential postseason scenario.

While Tucker stands as the biggest piece in the trade, several draft picks also shifted around. As detailed by my colleague and fellow site co-expert Jordan Treske, it can be a bit challenging to follow:

"“Also included in the deal is what is essentially a pick swap between both clubs that sees the Rockets trade the Bucks back their 2022 first round pick as well as Houston’s 2021 second rounder in exchange for the Bucks’ 2021 and 2023 first round picks (takes a deep breath).”"

Along with the picks, another overshadowed aspect of the trade is that the Bucks also acquired Rodions Kurucs from Houston alongside Tucker. Averaging 6.1 points throughout his career 126 regular season games, perhaps the 23-year-old could find some minutes off Milwaukee’s bench once he returns from an oblique strain.

In short, the Bucks were able to add a defensive piece they had been searching for and some shifting in their draft capital. Tucker will become an unrestricted free agent after the season, and it is clear that he is looking for a payday. With a proper evaluation over the next several months, the front office will cross that bridge when they get there.