P.J. Tucker

Free Agency Rumors: DeRozan, Smart, Dragic, Tucker

It appears that several teams remain interested in adding veteran free agent Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan, but are trying to gauge his market. Jordan Schultz of ESPN reports (Twitter link) that the Clippers would like to sign DeRozan, as would the Spurs if the price is right.

Schultz notes that there are other clubs interested in DeRozan, but – assuming he’s is not offered an overwhelming deal – the former four-time All-Star will take his time in determining a destination.

Here are more free agency rumors from around the NBA world:

  • With Lonzo Ball now headed to the Bulls in a sign-and-trade deal as a restricted free agent, another team that had been floated as a potential destination, the Celtics, will most likely not attempt to move on from guard Marcus Smart, tweets Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald. Murphy adds (Twitter link) that Smart is hoping to earn a four-year, $80MM contract extension from Boston.
  • Veteran guard Goran Dragic , who is expected to be sent from the Heat to the Raptors in an upcoming sign-and-trade for veteran free agent point guard Kyle Lowry, is hoping to be rerouted to the Mavericks, per Michael Grange of Sportsnet (Twitter link). The details of a sign-and-trade agreement between Miami and Toronto have not yet been fully reported.
  • Now that the news has broken that newly-minted NBA champion P.J. Tucker will be joining the Heat rather than return to the Bucks in free agency, Sam Amick of The Athletic notes a big part of the reason was Milwaukee’s exorbitant projected tax bill if Tucker had returned. The Bucks appear hopeful to replace Tucker’s versatile defensive contributions by agreeing to a deal with former Celtics forward Semi Ojeleye.

Heat Agree To Sign P.J. Tucker

The Heat have agreed to a deal with free agent forward P.J. Tucker, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

According to Charania (Twitter link), Tucker will get a two-year, $15MM contract from Miami, which suggests the team is putting a chunk of its mid-level exception toward the signing. The deal will feature a player option in year two, Charania adds (via Twitter).

Tucker doesn’t bring much to the table on offense besides the occasional corner three (he’s a career 35.9% shooter from beyond the arc), but he’s a physical, versatile defender who is just as willing to battle in the post with centers as he is to guard quicker guards and wings on the perimeter.

Tucker will fit in nicely on a Heat squad that already features tough defenders like Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, and Kyle Lowry.

The Heat had been looking to address their power forward position with their mid-level exception and will likely remain on the lookout for at least one more player who can play minutes at the four, though their cap flexibility is now limited. Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald reports (via Twitter) that the club has an offer out to veteran forward Markieff Morris.

Eastern Rumors: Ball, Rose, Tucker, Portis, Allen, Williams, Fournier, Schroder, Horton-Tucker

The Bulls are looking to make to major additions to shore up their point guard position, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

The Bulls have been linked for months to Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball and there’s thought to be mutual interest between the two sides on a four-year deal worth more than $80MM. If the Pelicans extend a $14.36MM qualifying offer to Ball, he’ll be a restricted free agent — the Bulls would have to give him an offer sheet and hope New Orleans doesn’t match it, or work out a sign-and-trade with the Pels.

The Bulls may have some competition from the Celtics, who have been recently mentioned as a potential Ball suitor after dealing away Kemba Walker. There’s increasing speculation the Celtics will not look to re-sign unrestricted free agent Evan Fournier, says Fischer. That possibility increased significantly after the Celtics agreed to acquire Josh Richardson from the Mavericks.

Chicago is also considering another Derrick Rose reunion and there’s mutual interest. It’s uncertain if the Knicks and head coach Tom Thibodeau can convince Rose, an unrestricted free agent, to re-sign with them if the Bulls make a hard push. However, Chicago will likely need to shed salary in order to bring in both Ball and Rose and the Knicks have plenty of cap room to outbid the Bulls for his services. While that’s a best case scenario in the Bulls’ eyes, they’re intent on adding two point guards this summer, especially with Coby White out indefinitely after undergoing left shoulder surgery, per Fischer.

Fischer offers up a number of other interesting items:

  • The Bucks are interested in bringing back two of their prominent free agents. They’d like to re-sign defensive specialist P.J. Tucker on a contract in the neighborhood of two years and $20MM. They are also hoping to re-sign forward Bobby Portis and the feeling is mutual. Since the Bucks only have Non-Bird rights on Portis, they’d have to use their mid-level exception to give him a starting salary higher than about $4.3MM.
  • The Cavaliers view the Raptors as their main threat to re-signing restricted free agent Jarrett Allen. Toronto’s interest in Allen surfaced last weekend. However, Cleveland is likely to match any offer sheet for Allen. The Raptors are also eying Kings free agent Richaun Holmes.
  • League sources think Lou Williams, one of the league’s top reserves, could re-sign with the Hawks on a veteran’s minimum deal, sys Fischer.
  • The Knicks, who need to add scoring punch, have expressed interest in Fournier. They’ve also been linked to Lakers guards Dennis Schroder and Talen Horton-Tucker. Schroder will be looking for a new home after the Lakers agreed to acquire Russell Westbrook. Previous reports have indicated the Knicks’ potential pursuit of Fournier and Schroder. Horton-Tucker is a restricted free agent after the Lakers extended a qualifying offer, though the team has the option of pulling it off the table.
  • According to SNY.TV’s Ian Begley, there’s support within the Knicks organization to pursue Nets free agent Spencer Dinwiddie and he’s interested in remaining in New York. Devonte’ GrahamKendrick Nunn, and Kyle Lowry are some other potential targets at point guard. At the wing, the Knicks have some interest in the Spurs’ DeMar DeRozan and they’ve had discussions with the Magic this week regarding a potential Terrence Ross trade.

New York Notes: Tucker, Thor, Duarte, Knicks Front Office, Martin

After winning a title with the Bucks this week, free agent forward P.J. Tucker seems unlikely to pursue another with the Nets, according to NetsDaily.com. The Athletic’s Alex Schiffer has indicated the Nets were interested in the veteran forward even before the James Harden trade and Tucker is also good friends with Harden and Kevin Durant. However, Brooklyn will likely be limited to the taxpayer mid-level exception and Tucker is expected to command more in the open market. Milwaukee also holds Tucker’s Bird rights and wants to retain him despite luxury tax concerns.

We have more on the Nets and Knicks:

  • Count both New York clubs among the 11 teams that have brought in JT Thor for a workout, Mike Mazzeo tweets. The Auburn power forward is ranked No. 28 overall on ESPN’s Best Available list. Brooklyn owns the No. 27 pick and three second-rounders, the earliest at No. 44, while New York has picks No. 19, 21 and 32.
  • Chris Duarte worked out for the Knicks on Friday, Adam Zagoria of the New York Times tweets, and it was a solo workout, Ian Begley of SNY.TV tweets. The Oregon shooting guard is ranked No. 23 on ESPN’s list but others have Duarte going much higher, Begley points out. The Knicks are seeking to move up into the late lottery, Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report said on the Knicks Film School podcast (Twitter link). Today’s workout could indicate Duarte is the target.
  • While the Knicks have agreed to a two-year extension with Scott Perry, multiple Western Conference teams have expressed interest in other members of the front office, according to Begley. The contracts of several of those executives expire at the end of the month, Begley adds.
  • Point guard Jeremiah Martin will join the Knicks’ summer league team in Las Vegas, Hoops Rumors’ JD Shaw tweets. Martin played with the Cavaliers in the closing weeks of the season on a two-way deal.

Bucks Notes: Portis, Tucker, Horst, 2021/22 Odds

It’s safe to say that nobody is happier with his decision last offseason than Bucks forward Bobby Portis. After helping to bring Milwaukee its first NBA title in 50 years, Portis confirmed that the Knicks made him a better offer than the two-year, $7.5MM deal he signed with the Bucks, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post.

“I knew it was the right place when I made the decision,’’ Portis said. “Fun fact, like fun little quick story. During free agency — actually, before free agency — the Knicks turned down my ($15M) team option and they wanted to sign me to another deal and it was pretty nice money. But I wasn’t really worried about the money. Sometimes money isn’t everything. It’s about happiness. I found happiness here.”

Portis will have another decision in a few days because he has a $3.8MM player option on the second year of his contract. Berman speculated that New York may have interest in a reunion with Portis, especially if Obi Toppin gets moved in a potential Collin Sexton trade, but Portis sounds reluctant to leave Milwaukee.

“When I first got here, I felt welcome and I felt loved,’’ he said. “The guys made me at home and the coaches made me comfortable. I get to be myself every day, just be energetic. Guys on my team, they are kind of quiet guys. There’s not many guys like me that are outgoing and really bring what I bring to the table with energy.’’

There’s more from Milwaukee:

  • The Bucks will keep their core together with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton, but the $106MM those three players are owed next season will limit the team’s financial flexibility, notes Bobby Marks of ESPN (Instagram link). Milwaukee has Bird rights on P.J. Tucker and would like to bring him back, but that may push the club over the luxury tax.
  • In Tuesday’s post-game celebration, coach Mike Budenholzer gave credit to general manager Jon Horst for the bold moves he made to assemble a championship team, per Spencer Davies of Basketball News. “What Jon Horst has done to put together a team, he’s the greatest GM in the league,” Budenholzer said. “I’m a little bit biased, but to be his partner, for him to go out and get Jrue Holiday, to have the guts to make that (trade), to recruit guys, to get P.J. Tucker midseason, Bobby Portis in the offseason. Stick with Khris, Giannis and Brook (Lopez) and Pat (Connaughton) and these guys, and you go up and down the roster. Jon has done an amazing job.”
  • The Bucks are early favorites to win another title next season, according to ESPN, which has the Nets, Suns, Lakers and Sixers rounding out the top five.

Fischer’s Latest: Collins, Schröder, Lowry, Green, Tucker, Dinwiddie, Oubre

Sign-and-trade deals are expected to be plentiful this summer and the largest one could involve Hawks forward John Collins, writes Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. Most contenders have limited cap flexibility, so league insiders are expecting the sign-and-trade option to be used with several of the top free agents.

Collins, a restricted free agent, could be on the move because of the perception that Atlanta doesn’t view him as a max player. Team owner Tony Ressler said last week that the team is hoping to reach a “fair agreement” with Collins, which raises questions about how high the Hawks would be willing to go to match an offer.

League sources tell Fischer there will be a “sizable market” for Collins once free agency begins next month. The Mavericks have been considered a possible destination for some time, and the Timberwolves are another team to watch, according to Fischer.

He shares some more rumors involving potential sign-and-trades:

  • Dennis Schröder turned down a four-year, $84MM extension offer from the Lakers and is expected to be on the move this summer. Fischer notes that Schröder wants a bigger salary and a larger role in the offense, but he’s not likely to get either in L.A. The Bulls and Knicks are expected to have interest in the veteran point guard, according to league sources, and a sign-and-trade is the Lakers’ best opportunity to add talent this offseason. L.A. will also continue to see what it can get in return for Kyle Kuzma, Fischer adds.
  • The Sixers remain interested in Raptors guard Kyle Lowry and he’s believed to welcome the chance to play for his hometown team. Several contenders will have their eyes on Philadelphia guard Danny Green, who represents another sign-and-trade opportunity.
  • Giving P.J. Tucker a new deal with the $12MM average salary he asked for in Houston would push the Bucks over the tax apron. Fischer states that the Nets have been interested in Tucker since they started negotiating the James Harden trade, and the Heat expressed interest as well when they talked to the Rockets about Victor Oladipo. Fischer identifies the Lakers, Warriors, Nuggets and Jazz as other teams to watch, along with the Timberwolves, who are led by former Houston executive Gersson Rosas and have been trying to acquire Tucker since the 2020 draft.
  • Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie and Warriors forward Kelly Oubre are two other potential names on the sign-and-trade market, according to Fischer. Sources say Brooklyn kept Dinwiddie past the trade deadline so he could be a potential sign-and-trade asset, while Oubre offers a chance for tax-strapped Golden State to pick up talent. Fischer names the Mavericks, Knicks and Heat as teams that would be interested in both players.

Central Notes: Pistons, Antetokounmpo, Tucker, Taylor

With the number one pick in the draft and a promising, newly re-made young core, this is a pivotal offseason for the Pistons, writes James L. Edwards III of The Athletic in a mailbag.

Within the piece, Edwards discusses the likelihood of the Pistons selecting Cade Cunningham (very likely), the fit between Cunningham and last year’s top selection (French point guard Killian Hayes), 2021 free agency plans, what the Pistons are likely to do with restricted free agent Hamidou Diallo, Isaiah Stewart‘s status as a starting center, Jerami Grant, and much more.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • David Aldridge of The Athletic profiles Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s dramatic return from injury and resumption of his regular season dominance. He talks to two-time NBA champion Isiah Thomas, among others, about what Antetokounmpo has done in the three games since his return. “He’s been the most inspiring player during these playoffs, while (Chris) Paul has been the sentimental player we all root for and want his career to end with a ring,” Thomas said in a text to Aldridge.
  • Tim MacMahon and Tim Bontemps of ESPN examine the journey Bucks forward P.J. Tucker has taken from the Ukrainian SuperLeague to the NBA Finals. One of the keys to Tucker’s resilience and fortitude, write MacMahon and Bontemps, was his ability to form connections in the locker room. “We had a team with an old Serbian guy who didn’t speak particularly good English, and P.J. made a connection with him and had a great friendship with him,” said former coach Chris Fleming. “The U.S. players, the young German players, he had an ability to reach everybody.”
  • The Bulls worked out Terry Taylor on Monday, tweets Hoops Rumors’ JD Shaw. The 6’5″ guard averaged over 20 PPG and 11 RPG over his final two seasons at Austin Peay State University.

Central Notes: Tucker, Bucks, Pacers, Workouts, Pistons

P.J. Tucker is used to being a part of contending teams, but this season took a detour before he landed in Milwaukee, notes Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Tucker had to endure a lot of losing in Houston after the Rockets dealt James Harden in mid-January. He was stuck in a rebuilding situation until the Bucks traded for him in March.

“I thought about the stuff I was doing with Houston this year, this season has just been a long year for me,” Tucker said. “To go from being a top team in the West to falling apart instantly and being the last one left (in Houston) and everything I went through with that, the transition, it was just a lot this season.”

Tucker has enjoyed his time with the Bucks and is looking forward to competing for his first NBA championship, but isn’t sure whether his time in Milwaukee will extend beyond this season, as Nehm writes.

“I’m really excited to be able to pick where I want to go,” Tucker said. “The (contract) extension thing was for a different period of time. We didn’t even talk about that when I came to Milwaukee. There was no extension. I just wanted to come play and get a chance to do what I do and that was it. I just wanted to have a chance.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Bucks Notes: Tucker, Lopez, Antetokounmpo, Coaching Staff

During his years with the Rockets, P.J. Tucker was never able to get past Kevin Durant‘s Warriors teams in the playoffs, writes Brian Windhorst of ESPN. The Bucks acquired Tucker at the trade deadline to match up with elite scorers like Durant, and he finally prevailed over his long-time rival in Milwaukee’s Game 7 victory Saturday night.

The Bucks used several players on Durant during the series, but the primary job belonged to Tucker, his friend and fellow Texas alum. Durant had another incredible performance Saturday with 48 points in 53 minutes, but he air-balled a shot at the end that could have sent the game to a second overtime.

“It’s painful. I’m hurting. That was a battle every single night,” Tucker said. “To be able to finally get over the hump is pretty nice.”

There’s more on the Bucks:

  • Brook Lopez was determined to make up for a mental error he committed late in the fourth quarter, according to Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Lopez lost track of the shot clock with 8.1 seconds remaining, resulting in a turnover that gave the Nets a chance to tie the game. He responded by blocking a layup attempt by Durant with a minute left in overtime. “After that (shot clock violation) happened, I just took it upon myself,” Lopez said. “I told my teammates, ‘I made a mistake, but let’s go get this.’ I’m gonna fix this, we’re gonna fix this and so it happened, but it was great to see how resilient we were.”
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is making his second trip to the conference finals, wants to make sure his teammates stay focused on the challenge ahead. After Saturday’s win, he wrote an 8 in the locker room, which is how many more wins the Bucks need to capture a championship, per Marc Berman of The New York Post“It’s a great feeling,’’ Antetokounmpo said. “I try not to get too high or low. I got emotional a little bit out there. The team really tried their best. Just being able to come to New York and were 0 for 5 here and in Game 7 and everyone’s anxious and nervous and able to execute and trust each other. It was big time. I’m really happy for this team. We’re halfway through. I want everyone to cherish this moment.’’
  • Bucks assistants Darvin Ham and Charles Lee have been rumored for head coaching opportunities around the league, and Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer believes they’re ready, tweets Malika Andrews of ESPN. “They’re incredible coaches,” he said.

Nets Notes: Irving, Harden, Durant, Green, More

Although he’s not ruling out the possibility that Nets guard Kyrie Irving will be available for Game 5 vs. the Bucks, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (video link) suggested during a KJZ appearance on Monday morning that the team is bracing for Irving to miss at least that game, if not more, after spraining his ankle on Sunday.

With Irving and James Harden (hamstring) both potentially sidelined, the alarm bells are blaring for the Nets, who now find themselves in a 2-2 tie with Milwaukee, writes Mike Vaccaro of The New York Post. As Vaccaro notes, even if Irving and Harden are able to play again in this series, there’s no guarantee they’d be 100%, and ankle and hamstring injuries are easy to tweak.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • If Irving and Harden are out, Kevin Durant will bear the burden of trying to carry the Nets into the next round, as Ian O’Connor of The New York Post and Joe Vardon of The Athletic write in separate stories. Vardon compares the situation to LeBron James having to shoulder the load for the 2015 Cavaliers after Irving and Kevin Love went down with injuries.
  • The Nets at least got some good injury news prior to Game 4 on Sunday when forward Jeff Green was cleared to return. However, head coach Steve Nash admitted after the game that he ended up having to play Green more than he anticipated — and more than he would’ve liked. “I think (with) Kyrie going down, we used his versatility to try different things,” Nash said of Green, per Marc Berman of The New York Post. “I’m proud of him for playing. He wasn’t supposed to play today — a couple days ago. For him to ratchet it up and get out there was great.”
  • In a span of days, the Nets went from overwhelming title favorites to being in real danger of elimination in the second round, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, who says that Brooklyn is the latest club to “ram home” the point that winning a title in the NBA is extremely difficult.
  • The Nets and Bucks had differing views on P.J. Tucker‘s defense on Durant after Game 4, as Eric Nehm of The Athletic writes. Nash referred to Tucker’s approach as “borderline non-basketball physical at times,” prompting Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer to respond, “He’s just guarding him. If that’s not basketball, I don’t know what is.”