NBA insider Marc Stein gave Milwaukee Bucks fans a little stocking stuffer on Christmas in the form of a brand-new tidbit of information that will catch the eyes of many.
In his latest trade roundup piece (subscription required), Stein says that the Bucks, along with the Miami Heat, have a "healthy level of admiration" for P.J. Tucker. This comes as rumors surfaced from The Athletic's Shams Charania (subscription required) that Tucker has grown frustrated with his role with the LA Clippers and that the two sides will aim to sort something out, there or elsewhere.
Although it certainly sounds like it, Stein made it clear in his piece that this rumor does not mean the Bucks or Heat are interested in a trade for Tucker, just that the admiration is there. Of course, Tucker has played for both of these teams, having helped the Bucks win a title in 2021 before joining Miami the following off-season for a year.
Perhaps the admiration these two franchises hold for Tucker could develop into legitimate interest.
Rumors: Bucks have "admiration" for potential trade target and former fan-favorite
A large portion of Bucks fans believe that Tucker should never have left in free agency following that title run, as it seemed like the team low-balled him in free agency. Whatever the case, if the franchise wanted the veteran back, they have an opportunity ahead of them to go out there and get him, as he's not in the LA Clippers' plans right now.
Even if he is not a needle-tipper, Tucker could help this Milwaukee team, in theory. It's no secret that the Bucks have struggled defensively this season, and a savvy, switchable defender like Tucker could be of use. Not to mention that he has experience playing with several key cogs on this team at the highest level, particularly Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Brook Lopez.
Tucker's presence vocally could be of great use to this team. For a large part of the season, the team has frequently been caught out of sorts on defense due to a miscue or lack of awareness. Having a veteran like Tucker, who is constantly talking and calling things out defensively would help. It has hurt the Bucks that Jae Crowder, who would typically do this, has been sidelined for the past few weeks.
The question is whether what you are getting from Tucker is worth his $11 million salary for this year. "Stats don't tell the whole story" can be a valid argument, but there's no denying Tucker has had one of his worst statistical outings thus far this year, averaging 1.3 points, 0.5 rebounds, and 0.6 assists while shooting 31.6 percent from the floor in 15 contests. Those are just gruesome to look at.
Would Tucker's defense, experience, and communication skills justify taking on that salary despite his lack of production? It's certainly debatable. A package of Pat Connaughton and Robin Lopez works financially, but is Tucker the big fish the Bucks should be going after with one of their big tradeable contracts in Connaughton? Again, up for debate.
In a perfect world, the Clippers and Tucker would agree to a buyout, which could allow the Bucks to sign him via a minimum deal if they cleared a roster spot. However, it's unclear if the Clippers would be willing to do that at this point, as there may be some belief there that they could get something in return for his services rather than just letting him go for nothing.
Right now, everything is just speculation. It's unclear if the Bucks would even want Tucker back in town for another go-round, but due to his previous ties to the organization, of course his name will surface in rumors. The NBA trade deadline is still far down the line, so more developments will follow in the coming months.
Stay tuned for more Milwaukee Bucks analysis.