2:31pm: Although the Knicks’ front office has its eye on Tucker, no trade discussions between the two teams have taken place at this point, reports John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link).
8:54am: As they continue attempting to address their defensive issues, the Knicks have identified a Suns wing player as a potential trade target. According to Ian Begley of ESPN.com, New York’s front office has been eyeing P.J. Tucker, labeling him as a player the team may pursue before this year’s trade deadline.
Tucker, 31, has played for Phoenix since returning from overseas in 2012, appearing in 356 games for the Suns over the last five seasons. Having averaged 30+ minutes per game in each of the last three seasons, Tucker has seen his playing time reduced a little this year (27.1 MPG) and is coming off the bench more often than he’s starting for the first time since his return to the NBA. In 36 games this season, he has recorded 6.3 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 1.3 SPG.
As our list of 2017 free agents by team shows, Tucker is the only Suns player currently on track for unrestricted free agency this summer. Unless the club is fairly confident he’ll be re-signed in July, it could make sense for Phoenix to gauge the market for him in the coming weeks and get an asset or two in return.
It’s not clear what the Knicks would give up if they put a formal offer on the table for Tucker. As Begley observes, the club has a few intriguing young players, like Willy Hernangomez, Kyle O’Quinn, and Mindaugas Kuzminskas. Draft picks could also be in play, though Begley notes that Phil Jackson and the Knicks’ front office were unwilling to part with future first-rounders last season.
Tucker is earning a fairly modest $5.3MM salary in 2016/17, so if the Knicks were to make a move for him, they’d only have to send out about $3.5MM to accommodate a deal under cap rules.