P.J. Tucker

Eastern Notes: Vildoza, Hill, Tucker, Pistons Rookies

The Knicks will likely make a roster move at some point to replace John Henson, who didn’t receive another 10-day contract. A wild card could be Baskonia combo guard Luca Vildoza. According to Lithuanian journalist Donatas Urbonas (Twitter link), Vildoza is on the Knicks’ radar. The 25-year-old, 6’3” Vildoza is averaging 10.1 PPG and 3.4 APG in the EuroLeague this season.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Sixers coach Doc Rivers is optimistic George Hill will make his team debut in the coming week, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Hill was acquired from Oklahoma City in a three-team deadline deal last month. The veteran guard had surgery on his right thumb on February 2, and hasn’t played since January 24. Hill’s $10MM salary for next season isn’t guaranteed and Philadelphia is looking for him to be a postseason factor.
  • P.J. Tucker missed three weeks of action before returning this week and revealing that the calf injury that sidelined him cropped up before he was traded by Houston to the Bucks, Eric Nehm of The Athletic tweets. Tucker wanted to play through the injury but the Bucks’ medical staff chose to keep him inactive until he healed.
  • The Pistons started all of their first-round picks for the first time on Friday and Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey lifted the team to a win over Oklahoma City. Backup center Jahlil Okafor says it’s a pleasure to be around the hard-working trio, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes. “Seeing them every day, how serious they are in their approach, I’m really proud of them,” Okafor said. “It’s a breath of fresh air being around these types of rookies who love the game so much and are so eager to learn. It’s kind of uplifting.”

Nuggets Notes: Bradley, Luxury Tax, Gordon, Tucker, Barnes, Murray

The Nuggets would have some interest in guard Avery Bradley if he’s bought out, Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets. Bradley was part of package the Heat shipped to Houston for Victor Oladipo. Bradley has only appeared in 10 games this season due to injury. There’s a $5.9MM team option on the remaining year of his contract.

We have more on the Nuggets:

  • The team’s ownership is willing to pay the luxury tax in a future season as long as the club is a prime contender for the title, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN. Denver has managed to stay below the tax threshold this season. Aaron Gordon‘s contract and Michael Porter Jr.‘s rookie deal expire after next season, giving the franchise a season-and-a-half to evaluate whether keeping both of them, along with stars Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, is worth a big luxury tax bill. However, ownership doesn’t want to be a “repeater” tax team, Lowe adds. Teams are subject to repeater penalties when they’ve been a taxpayer in three of four seasons.
  • Prior to acquiring Gordon from the Magic, the Nuggets discussed a P.J. Tucker trade with the Rockets but never got close to an agreement, Lowe reports in the same story. They also sent feelers to the Kings regarding Harrison Barnes but Sacramento wasn’t interested in dealing him.
  • Murray has been very proactive about his interest in playing for Team Canada in the Summer Olympics, Raptors and Team Canada coach Nick Nurse told The Athletic’s Blake Murphy (Twitter link).

P.J. Tucker Talks Trade To Bucks, Goal In Milwaukee

Barring any setbacks, new Bucks forward P.J. Tucker is expected to make his debut for his new team on Saturday against the Spurs, ESPN’s Eric Woodyard writes.

The Rockets and Bucks agreed on a deal earlier in the week, ending a standoff that essentially began at the start of the season. Houston was trending downward and after trading frustrated superstar James Harden, Tucker’s departure seemed inevitable.

The 35-year-old has not been much of an offensive weapon this season, averaging a career-low 4.4 PPG, but he remains one of the best defenders in the league. Along with reigning two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, Tucker should help Milwaukee boast a formidable frontcourt. For Tucker, the move also represents a shot to compete for a championship, as he told reporters.

Tucker on how he fits in with the Bucks:

“The situation is perfect. I think I fit in well.”

Tucker on his goal with Milwaukee:

“My main goal is to win a championship. That’s easy. That’s the only reason I’m here. I feel like we’ve got a chance to win a championship and do something special.”

Tucker on if he feels rejuvenated being with his new team:

“Man, you have no idea. It’s gave me that boost and 15 years in, you look for anything. There are days where I talk to myself or talk junk to people just so they can talk junk back and I can get myself going. This has been one of those things where now, I’m just recharging my battery.”

Southwest Notes: Tucker, DeRozan, Mavs, Wood, Porter Jr.

P.J. Tucker has been traded by the Rockets to the Bucks but the veteran forward thought he’d be wearing a different uniform much sooner, Kelly Iko and Sam Amick of The Athletic report. Following a team meeting in January, Tucker expected to be included in the James Harden deal where he’s wind up in either Brooklyn or Philadelphia. Instead, Tucker – who is seeking an extension — spent two months waiting for the front office to find a new home for him.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • DeMar DeRozan has rejoined the Spurs, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. DeRozan had been away from the team for four games to attend his father’s funeral. DeRozan will be available to play against Cleveland on Friday.
  • With the Mavericks planning to rest Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis periodically, they might look to add another starting-caliber player before the trade deadline, Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News speculates. Another experienced player off the bench who could provide an offensive boost would also be helpful, Caplan notes. But there are also some compelling reasons for the club to stand pat as well, which Caplan details.
  • With Christian Wood back in the lineup after a lengthy absence due to an ankle injury, he can now work on his chemistry with guard Kevin Porter Jr.., Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes. Porter Jr. has averaged 19.6 PPG and 8.0 APG since returning from the G League.

Rockets Trade P.J. Tucker To Bucks

MARCH 19: The Rockets and Bucks have officially completed their trade, per a press release.

MARCH 17: Milwaukee is making some roster adjustments ahead of a playoff push.

The Bucks are acquiring forwards P.J. Tucker and Rodions Kurucs and reacquiring their own 2022 first-round pick from the Rockets in exchange for veteran point guard D.J. Augustin, forward D.J. Wilson, the Bucks’ 2023 unprotected first-round draft pick, and the right to swap the Rockets’ 2021 second-round pick for Milwaukee’s first-round draft pick (top-nine protected), reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The deal will add Tucker to the Bucks’ frontcourt, giving the team a strong, versatile defender to match up with opposing forwards and big men in the second half and in the postseason. After three-and-a-half seasons in Houston, the 35-year-old reached an agreement with the team last week that allowed him to remain away from the Rockets while they sought a trade for him.

Tucker hasn’t contributed much on offense this season, averaging a career-low 4.4 PPG with a .314 3PT% in 32 games (30.0 MPG), but he’s still a solid defender and could be rejuvenated by a change of scenery that gets him to a contender.

The Rockets, losers of 17 straight games, clearly appear to be in asset acquisition mode now. The deal should allow them to move up at least a few spots in the 2021 draft, as they’ll swap their second-round pick for Milwaukee’s first-rounder. By reacquiring their 2022 first-round pick from Houston, the Bucks are able to surrender both their 2021 and 2023 first-rounders in this deal without violating the Stepien rule.

While the Rockets were rumored to be seeking a young impact player in exchange for Tucker, that was always considered an ambitious goal, given the forward’s recent decline. But the club will get a chance to look at a former first-rounder in Wilson before he becomes eligible for restricted free agency in the summer.

It’s not yet clear what Houston’s plan for Augustin is, but he’s the one player in the deal who is owed guaranteed money beyond this season, with a $7MM guaranteed salary for 2021/22 and a non-guaranteed $7.3MM salary in ’22/23. He could provide depth at the point guard spot for the Rockets or be rerouted to a new team at some point.

The Bucks have also reportedly agreed to send Torrey Craig to the Suns and will now have two open roster spots. They’ll go from about $442K below the hard cap to $3.5MM below, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link), so they’ll have a little more breathing room to fill out their 15-man roster via trade or on the buyout market.

Luke Adams contributed to this story. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southeast Notes: Heat, Gay, Anthony, Zeller, Wizards

The Heat made their deal for Trevor Ariza with over a week to go until the March 25 trade deadline. One reason for Miami’s willingness to act early was the team’s inability to find common ground with the Spurs or Rockets on trade compensation for Rudy Gay or P.J. Tucker, a source tells Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

Gay and Tucker had been previously mentioned as potential Heat targets, and Gay was the preferred choice for some of those within the organization, according to Jackson. However, the Spurs’ asking price was deemed too high for Miami’s liking — the two teams also made no progress in talks for LaMarcus Aldridge, Jackson adds.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Magic rookie Cole Anthony, who has been sidelined since February 9 due to shoulder and rib injuries, isn’t close to returning, head coach Steve Clifford said this week, per Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel. “He was on the court yesterday for the first time just doing some light shooting,” Clifford said on Wednesday. “Let’s put it this way: It’s more than days, it’s weeks before –– and I shouldn’t even say –– I don’t know exactly, but it’s not that close is the feedback (from the training staff).”
  • After starting Thursday night’s game vs. the Lakers, Hornets center Cody Zeller didn’t play at all in the second half, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Zeller’s role is worth watching with the trade deadline around the corner — if Charlotte makes a move, it could involve the center position and Zeller’s $15.4MM expiring contract.
  • Fred Katz and John Hollinger of The Athletic teamed up to break down some hypothetical trade deadline deals involving the Wizards, including swaps that would send players such as George Hill, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Wayne Ellington to D.C.

Central Notes: Tucker, Markkanen, Pacers, Lee

The Bucks took strides to improve their hoped-for playoff readiness in trading for a package headlined by defensive ace P.J. TuckerJonathan Tjarks of The Ringer posits that the Bucks should remain aggressive in looking to shore up their depth with further trades and potential buyout targets.

Tjarks wonders if Tucker, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer at age 36, can help compel Milwaukee to pivot to a more aggressive defensive approach. Tjarks hopes that the Bucks will be similarly aggressive off the court as well, in looking to add perimeter help as they continue to rethink their bench.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • After playing in his 19th game of the season yesterday, Bulls power forward Lauri Markkanen has achieved the starter criteria in his rookie contract, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. His qualifying offer for the summer of 2021 will now be worth $9.03MM instead of $7.03MM. In the two seasons leading up to Markkanen’s restricted free agency, he needed to start at least half of his games with Chicago to qualify. Markkanen started in all 50 games he was available for during the 2019/20 season, and has started in all 19 games he has played thus far this season.
  • After 21 years with the Pacers, advance scout Jimmy Powell has retired, per Scott Agness of the Fieldhouse Files. Powell has been replaced by former Celtics scout Gary Schmidt.
  • Pistons rookie point guard Saben Lee has been methodical in approaching his development during the 21-year-old’s first NBA season, according to Rod Beard of the Detroit News“With the tortoise and the hare, the process was faster for the rabbit and everyone thought the rabbit was going to win,” Lee told Beard. “The turtle just kept his head on the end goal — and he messed around and won… That’s my mindset and how I feel like my process has been.” Lee has appeared in 19 games with Detroit, averaging 15.2 MPG thus far.

Rockets Notes: Young Players, Tucker Deal, Lamb

As injured Rockets veterans continue to rejoin the roster, head coach Stephen Silas still intends to keep some rotation minutes open for the development of Houston’s youth movement, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

The most recent player to return to the Houston lineup is center Christian Wood, who rejoined the team on the floor last night after a 17-game absence due to a sprained ankle. Wing Danuel House Jr. also recently returned from his own injury absence, and veteran guards John Wall and Victor Oladipo are expected back Friday.

A pair of tantalizing 20-year-olds – Kevin Porter Jr. and Kenyon Martin Jr. – still figure to earn major minutes even with the older players back on the floor. “I will say I am working on it and I am attentive to the fact I want those young guys to play,” Silas said.

There’s more out of Houston:

  • Following the deal that sent P.J. Tucker, Rodions Kurucs and a 2022 first-round draft pick (Milwaukee’s own) to the Bucks, Kelly Iko of The Athletic explains why he thinks both the Rockets and Milwaukee should be happy with the trade. In return, Houston received some promising draft assets, plus veteran reserve point guard D.J. Augustin and young power forward D.J. Wilson. Iko is intrigued by the lengthy Wilson’s upside and fit within a Silas system, Augustin’s veteran know-how, and the Rockets front office’s acquisition of two Bucks first-round picks in the deal.
  • Rockets two-way player Anthony Lamb was named the G League’s Most Improved Player due to his stellar output for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, G League affiliate for the Rockets, according to an NBAGL press release.
  • As we previously relayed, Rockets swingman David Nwaba initially opted to avoid surgery on his injured wrist to help a Rockets club riddled with player absences. He subsequently re-aggravated the injury, making surgery a possibility once again.

Mannix’s Latest: Clippers, Rubio, Magic, Celtics, Horford, More

The Clippers remain in the market for help at the point guard position, with Hornets veteran Terry Rozier among the players who has drawn “strong internal interest,” according to Chris Mannix of SI.com. Mannix adds that George Hill and Ricky Rubio are among the other possible trade candidates in play for the Clippers, who have limited draft assets to use as sweeteners.

The Magic, who are also seeking point guard help, have kicked the tires on Rubio lately as well, per Mannix. That lines up with a Monday report from Jake Fischer of SI.com, who said Orlando had discussed a trade with the Timberwolves that would involve Rubio and Aaron Gordon.

Magic head coach Steve Clifford, who coached Kemba Walker in Charlotte, remains a big fan of the Celtics point guard, but Walker is unlikely to be on the move by March 25, says Mannix.

Here’s more from Mannix’s latest round-up of trade-related rumors:

  • Reports on Monday indicated that a trade is more likely than a buyout for LaMarcus Aldridge, and that the Celtics are focusing on the Spurs‘ big man. However, Mannix cites league sources who believe a buyout is the most likely outcome for Aldridge, and adds that Boston isn’t interested in trading for the veteran Spur.
  • While the Thunder are open to listening to inquires on Al Horford, they’re happy with how he has performed this season and won’t be looking to just give him away, Mannix writes.
  • Rival executives view the Heat as the favorites to land Rockets forward P.J. Tucker, per Mannix.
  • Tom Thibodeau has urged the Knicks‘ front office to be active at the deadline, and the club may pursue upgrades, but so far New York has shown little appetite for moving any of its top young players or taking on long-term salary, Mannix reports.
  • While Michael Porter Jr. is presumed to be off-limits, Gary Harris, Will Barton, and Bol Bol are among the Nuggets believed to be available as the team seeks a complementary piece for Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, according to Mannix.

Southwest Rumors: Aldridge, DeRozan, Tucker, Wall, Bledsoe

While a number of teams around the NBA may be hoping LaMarcus Aldridge reaches the buyout market, all indications for now are that the Spurs will be able to make a trade, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic. Sources tell Amick that general managers inquiring on Aldridge have been told that five teams are “firmly in the mix.”

As Aldridge and the Spurs prepare to part ways, the team’s other former All-Star, DeMar DeRozan, remains a focal point of the team’s offensive attack, having averaged 20.3 points and 7.3 assists per game this season. San Antonio isn’t actively seeking a DeRozan trade, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. However, Haynes says that could change if the two sides don’t agree to an in-season extension before the trade deadline. Currently, no extension negotiations are active, Haynes adds.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • A source with knowledge of the Rockets‘ talks tells Sam Amick of The Athletic that about 70% of the league has inquired on P.J. Tucker. The Nuggets, who are seeking a forward capable of guarding multiple positions, are no longer believed to be in the mix for Tucker, since the asking price is so high — Amick says Houston has sought a young impact player and a first-round pick. The club would be doing well to acquire one or the other for the 35-year-old.
  • Rockets guard John Wall, who recently suffered a left knee contusion, is expected to have that knee scoped later this year, league sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Wall should be able to return soon from the contusion, but will have to undergo the scope eventually, says Haynes, noting that the veteran has previously undergone surgery on that knee.
  • According to Amick, Pelicans guard Eric Bledsoe is thought to be “very available,” but interest has been minimal so far. Bledsoe’s contract, which pays him $16.9MM this season and $18.1MM next year, will be an obstacle.