The Raptors are among the teams interested in trading for P.J. Tucker, sources tell Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The small forward is making $5.5MM this season but only $1.5MM of his $5.3MM salary for next season is guaranteed. The Suns were reportedly putting off talks about Tucker as of last month while they waited to gauge their postseason chances, but Phoenix is a long shot for the playoffs at this point, 10 games behind eighth-place Portland.
Stein expects Phoenix will hold out for a “nice pick” in return for Tucker. The Raptors are slated for an extra first-round pick both this year and next. Raptors GM Masai Ujiri has indicated that the team plans to unload the surplus of first-rounders at some point, but Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun reported that the Raptors have no intention of giving them up cheaply and aren’t interested in a stopgap player. However, that was before James Johnson underwent an MRI on Tuesday after suffering an ankle injury. Johnson was filling in at small forward for DeMarre Carroll, who remains at least a few weeks away from returning after right knee surgery.
The Suns are dealing with injury concerns of their own, as combo forward T.J. Warren went down with a season-ending injury this week, placing him on the shelf alongside Eric Bledsoe, who was already done for the year. Still, Tucker, who turns 31 in May, doesn’t quite epitomize a youthful building block, and the Suns have incentive to focus on young players and build for the future amid a season in which little has gone right for them.
Toronto’s interest in Tucker dates to at least the summer of 2014, when he was a free agent and re-signed with Phoenix, leading the Raptors to ink Johnson instead, notes Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca (Twitter link). Tucker was originally a draft pick of the Raptors in 2006, but that was long before Ujiri took charge of the front office.
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