Rockets Rumors: Tucker, Wood, Small-Ball

The Nets, Jazz, and Nuggets are among the teams that have “sniffed around” on Rockets forward P.J. Tucker, sources tell Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

Tucker has been viewed as a strong potential trade candidate since Houston moved James Harden, with a number of other teams mentioned as potential suitors in recent weeks, including the Lakers, Bucks, Heat, and Timberwolves. His three-and-D skill set makes him an easy piece to plug into just about any lineup, and his $8MM expiring contract wouldn’t be hard to salary-matching in a trade.

While the Rockets won’t just give Tucker away, Iko suggests that the 35-year-old is more of a “ceiling-raiser” than a “floor-raiser,” and Houston is in need of the latter kind of player. The Rockets’ asking price for Tucker is unclear — multiple reports last month indicated that they’d be seeking three second-round picks, but a more recent report said they’d prefer to acquire a player who can contribute immediately.

Here’s more out of Houston:

  • Christian Wood has been hoping to return from his right ankle injury before the All-Star break, but the Rockets want to hold him out until the second half, according to Iko. Houston prefers to play it safe with one of its cornerstone players, hoping to reduce the risk of that ankle becoming a recurring issue for Wood, Iko explains.
  • With Wood on the shelf and DeMarcus Cousins no longer on the roster, the Rockets have been reverting to some small-ball lineups, which doesn’t thrill point guard John Wall. “Small ball, I don’t really like it to be honest, because I need a big that can roll, finish,” Wall said, per Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston (Twitter link). “It’s just difficult. I’m a person that likes to pass. I’m used to finding my bigs on the roll.”
  • The Rockets’ nine-game losing streak has moved them into fourth place in the NBA’s reverse standings, which will be worth watching all season long. The Thunder have the ability to swap first-round picks with the Rockets, but only if Houston’s pick doesn’t land in the top four.
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