Milwaukee Bucks: 3 P.J. Tucker replacements to target in free agency

MIAMI, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 30 (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 30 (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Miami Heat: James Johnson
MIAMI, FL – DECEMBER 22 (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

In a shocking twist, the Milwaukee Bucks will be tasked with looking to replace one of the key contributors from their title run this past season.

As first reported by The Athletic’s Shams Charania, P.J. Tucker will leave Milwaukee after just one season to sign a two-year deal (player option in the second) worth $15 million with the Miami Heat. This move was largely unexpected because the Bucks held Tucker’s Bird Rights entering the offseason and seemed like the clear favorites to retain his services. Nevertheless, the NBA proves once again just how unpredictable it can be.

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With Tucker now gone, the Bucks will have to look for a new replacement on the open market to keep their defensive efforts up to par.

While that might be a tall task for general manager Jon Horst and co. as many of the household free agents have already found new homes or reached agreements with their respective teams, there are still some under-the-radar names floating around out there.

Many will immediately point to Milwaukee’s signing of Semi Ojeleye last night as the potential Tucker replacement, as the forward is known for his defense. However, Ojeleye signed for a veteran minimum deal and the Bucks still have a $5.9 million exception to utilize on another free agent elsewhere. They could certainly use that to shore up their defense on specific targets, although they have other financial avenues to explore to make more signings. With that being said, here are three Tucker replacements for the Bucks to target.

The Milwaukee Bucks could replace P.J. Tucker with James Johnson in 2021 NBA Free Agency

One thing the Bucks will miss the most from Tucker is his toughness out on the floor, which could make a player like James Johnson worth pursuing.

Johnson has seemingly represented the “tough-guy” persona throughout his 12 years in the NBA, largely because he indeed has a second-degree black belt. While it might not be condoned, the forward has surely gotten in his share of scuffles over the years, certainly standing up for both himself and his teammates when the situation calls for it. He brings an element of grittiness wherever he goes, which would fit the billing for what the Bucks are looking for.

In addition to that presence in their locker room, Johnson has also proven to be a serviceable piece in many rotations over the years. Most recently, the 34-year-old split this past season between the Dallas Mavericks and New Orleans Pelicans, where he averaged 7.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. While he is not the flashiest player, he could be a solid piece for the Bucks to help tighten up their defense and add some production in Tucker’s absence.

Also worth noting, he would likely be among the remaining targets that are still within the Bucks’ price range following the first night of free agency. With Johnson still available, the front office should take a low-risk move and make an offer toward the forward. It would not be a sizeable signing, but one that has plenty of upside with the team looking for another body to throw into the forward rotation after this unexpected incident.