Milwaukee Bucks: Getting to know veteran forward P.J. Tucker

Feb 9, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA (Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports)
Feb 9, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA (Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports) /
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May 20, 2018; Oakland, CA, USA (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)
May 20, 2018; Oakland, CA, USA (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports) /

P.J. Tucker’s career renaissance that now leads him to the Milwaukee Bucks

No longer having to prove himself as an NBA-caliber player, Tucker stood as one the few bright spots for the Suns as they struggled mightily throughout the mid-2010s, save for their 48-win season in 2013-14.  After that year, Tucker earned a hefty raise by going from a minimum deal to signing a three-year, $16.5 million deal.

It was by the end of that deal where Tucker departed the desert and landed with a Toronto Raptors team looking to return make noise in the playoffs during the 2016-17 season. It’s safe to say Tucker’s second go-around in Toronto was far more successful as he proved himself to be an impactful midseason reinforcement for the Raptors until their were swept out of the Eastern Conference Semifinals by the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers.

Upon hitting unrestricted free agency during the summer of 2017, Tucker was faced with a choice to either return back to the Raptors and return back to Texas and play with the Houston Rockets. On the table was reportedly a three-year, $33 million deal to stay in Toronto or a four-year, $32 million offer to play for a Rockets team that had loaded up with the acquisition of Chris Paul around that year’s MVP runner up, James Harden.

With his ties to Paul, a lifelong friend, Tucker returned back to the Lone Star State and went on to enjoy great success with the Rockets as he quickly stood as their Swiss-army knife, especially on the defensive end.

The Rockets’ ‘Iron Man,’ so to speak, Tucker was surely needed as they ascended to the top of the league for the 2017-18 season, his first year in Houston. They embraced the challenge of taking on a goliath like the Golden State Warriors in that year’s Western Conference Finals and Tucker played through pain while both sides went the full tilt.

Houston would never reach the same heights over the remainder of Tucker’s time on Houston, though not without plenty of fight and aspirations. Yet Tucker stood firmly within the Rockets’ unconventional approach to go all in on their small ball look near the end of the team’s era with Harden, Mike D’Antoni and Daryl Morey.

Tucker’s ability to seamlessly guard multiple positions and defend players well beyond his his 6’5, linebacker-like stature made such a gamble possible, even if they only went as far as the Western Conference Semifinals in each of the last two seasons.

But as they say, all good things come to an end. D’Antoni, Morey and Russell Westbrook left Houston last offseason and Harden’s exit latter followed into this season after plenty of noise and trade demands from his side of things.

Tucker made plenty of noise before his way out of Houston as well, whether it was desiring a lavish contract extension that never came his way last summer or joining Harden in Brooklyn in that blockbuster deal as was recently reported by The Athletic’s Sam Amick and Kelly Iko ($$).

While his exit came longer than anticipated, Tucker finally got his wish when he was dealt to the Bucks last week.