Milwaukee Bucks: Reactions from P.J. Tucker joining rivaling Miami Heat

MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 27 (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 27 (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The first two moves of 2021 NBA Free Agency for the Milwaukee Bucks have certainly brought mixed emotions among the fanbase.

Things started off promising with The Athletic’s Shams Charania reporting that Bobby Portis would be returning to the Bucks on a two-year deal. While many were skeptical that Portis would return to the Bucks as he earned himself a hefty raise they could not afford, the same sentiment was not held for P.J. Tucker.

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Many believed that keeping Tucker would come much easier for the Bucks, but they were proved wrong as Charania reported that Tucker is heading to the Miami Heat on a two-year deal worth $15 million, including a player option in year two.

Considering the Bucks held his Bird Rights heading into free agency and a deal worth about $20 million over two years seemed like the most logistical scenario for both parties, this move from Tucker certainly comes as a significant surprise.

P.J. Tucker leaves the Milwaukee Bucks to play with an Eastern Conference rival in the Miami Heat

First and foremost, this move was completely out of left field. While losing Tucker was always a possibility, it seemed so uncertain. After winning his first championship with the Bucks, it seemed like he would be among the first players to ink a contract extension and run it back to defend the title, particularly as he raved about this franchise since he came aboard last March.

It would not take long for Tucker to carve out a role for the team due to his tenacious defense and mental toughness, both of which the Bucks needed. This was only heightened when starting shooting guard Donte DiVincenzo went down in the first round for an injury that would sideline him for the rest of the playoffs, leaving Tucker to fill in. Taking DiVincenzo’s starting spot, the forward would help the Bucks defeat the Brooklyn Nets in seven games during the second round by playing pestering defense on Kevin Durant, a series they would not have won without him.

Handing him a new deal directly after seeing his efforts in that series alone seemed like a good idea, especially given how quickly he meshed with this group. Instead, the 36-year-old forward is headed to one of Milwaukee’s biggest rivals in the modern-day NBA down in South Beach.

The rivalry between the Bucks and Heat has taken off over the past two seasons, with the teams squaring off in the playoffs in consecutive trips. The underdog Heat upset the top-seeded Bucks in the East Semis during the 2020 playoffs down in the NBA bubble, where they would eventually make it back to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2014. Less than a year later, the retooled Bucks embraced the challenge of trying to avenge their defeat from the previous season, which they achieved by steamrolling the Heat in a four-game sweep.

Things will only continue to heat up with Tucker leaving Milwaukee to join the current retooling that is taking place in Miami. With the team acquiring Kyle Lowry, extending Duncan Robinson, and handing Jimmy Butler a massive contract extension in addition to adding Tucker, this team will fly up the power rankings list heading into next season. They will certainly be right there with the Bucks jockeying for position in the Eastern Conference, and perhaps a third straight playoff bout could be in store for these two juggernauts next season.

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While he was only in Milwaukee for a short time, Tucker’s place in Bucks’ history will be cemented forever as he helped the team end their 50-year title drought.  While it is brutal to see Tucker go, especially to a rival, fans can only thank the forward for his efforts.