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Free Agent Focus: P.J. Tucker


  • 2013-14 Team: Phoenix Suns
  • Previous Team: Toronto Raptors
  • Key Stats 2013/14: 9.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.4 steals, 43.1 FG% and 38.7 3P% (on 2.4 attempts per game).
  • Estimated contract: 2-3 years, $15-20 million

Matters to No One But Me …

P.J. Tucker’s professional journey is one of those stories that sports are all about. After a solid career playing alongside LaMarcus Aldridge at Texas — playing power forward at 6-foot-5 — the former Big 12 Player of the Year left after his junior year only to be drafted by Toronto in the second round.

He lasted a year, playing little as a forward/post tweener before fading into obscurity. When I say obscurity, I mean it. He was cut to make room for Luke flippin’ Jackson. If you remember, Jackson was supposed to be the first of many great sidekicks for a young LeBron James in Cleveland. Yeah, that didn’t work out.

Anywho, the journeyman Tucker made his way through professional basketball overseas like a tourist vacationing in Europe. Over six seasons, Tucker played on seven European teams in five countries (including a lone year in Puerto Rico), slowly evolving from a super-undersized post into what we now love to call a 3-and-D wing.

There have been plenty of guys to flame out of the NBA early before going to Europe and returning years later, but Tucker did that AND transformed himself into a wing player. He hit just two 3-pointers in three seasons at Texas; he made 74 last season.

Fits with the Pistons because …

Well, he shoots the ball well and defends even better — seems to fill a void, no? With Rodney Stuckey heading into free agency, the Pistons current group of perimeter players is in sorry shape.

Tucker fits from a need point of view, but he also fits from a needing-guys-who-care point of view. Oh, and he fits because he’s kind of a badass (see what is he known for).

There’s just a level of toughness the Pistons lacked last year, and if Tucker brings an intangible like that — along with being a good defender and shooter — that’s big. He shot 44% (68-for-166) on corner 3-pointers this season, which would easily be No. 1 on the shooting-needy Pistons.

Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …

The Pistons might have an eerily similar player who’s younger and cheaper in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. While Caldwell-Pope has some of the same measurable attributes (both are 6-foot-5) and strengths (shooting and defense), I don’t think they’re the same mentality-wise.

Tucker’s intangibles would be extremely valuable — I’m big on intangibles/leadership and apparently so is Stan Van Gundy — but is that worth potentially $20 million?

Free Agent is …

… seeking a contract that keeps him in one place. I’d have to imagine being an NBA journeyman is a less-than-favorable way to spend your career. Tucker’s a níche player who can fit somewhere for more than just one season. He’s not a spring chicken at 29 years old, but I’d have to imagine he’s looking to find a place to cash in and stick — not a place to play for another one-year deal.

Best known for …

Remember how I said he was a badass? My problem with last season’s Pistons was the apathy. No one cared about anything, everyone looked like a zombie and there was no one on the team who, you know, commanded respect of their opponent.

Enter P.J. Tucker, Taker of No One’s Crap:


  • Jun 2, 20144:59 pm
    by tom


    I didn’t even realize this guy was back in the US, but I will take him. Seeing him box out Blake Griffin suggests that his similarities with Caldwell-Pope don’t run too deep. Seems like a good compliment to Pope to math up more with physical players. Your price tag seems a little high for a guy scoring less than 10ppg, but still, I’d be happy to see him as a Piston.

    • Jun 2, 20146:33 pm
      by Brady Fredericksen


      Price would vary, but I’d imagine he’d want 3-4 years at $4-5 million per. 

  • Jun 2, 20148:00 pm
    by Windy


    Not a player I had on my radar but now is…3 years for 13.5 would be nice

  • Jun 2, 20148:21 pm
    by Hook Shot


    I like him. Refs missed the elbow Griffin threw at him and he took matters into his own hands. Don’t agree with the punch but yes we need the passion!

  • Jun 2, 201410:57 pm
    by Ryan


    He seems like exactly the kind of guy who could help us.

  • Jun 3, 201412:06 am
    by Kevin


    Hadn’t thought about Tucker as an option, great call. Would be a good fit for the right price. One note, Kyle Single shot 68/138 on corner threes this season, so Tucker would be an easy 2nd.
    2014 Season Review: Kyle Singler

    • Jun 3, 20148:30 pm
      by Brady Fredericksen


      I forgot Singler ended up being pretty serviceable from the corner, but he’s also limited everywhere that Tucker is above average in defense and rebounding.

      • Jun 3, 201410:00 pm
        by Kevin


        Yeah, wasn’t saying there’s a lot of overlap between the two.  Just that the Singler corner three stat was fresh in my head.

  • Jun 3, 201412:28 am
    by frankie d


    agree about tucker.
    he should definitely be on the list of guys the pistons go after.  
    only problem is that he sometimes gets stuck in a bad matchup because of his size.  he is definitely a tweener who can be exploited, occasionally, but i would take that negative for the positives he brings to the court.  my guess, however, is that phoenix is going to resign him.  i think they understand how valuable a guy like him is.

  • Jun 3, 20149:01 am
    by JYD for Life


    I like his intangibles, but that’s a lot of money for a guy who averaged 10 pts and 43% shooting in 30 mins per game.  
    Without question, we need guys like him to light a fire under Monroe and Drummond or to slap Smith or Jennings in the face when they’re being idiots.  
    There’s a value to that…I’m just not sure how much it’s worth.  
    Without scouring the free agent list, I would assume there’s a veteran or a guy we could get in the second round who would bring a similar intensity, but on a minimum salary.  
    Sefalosha comes to mind and he’s an unrestricted FA… 

    • Jun 3, 201410:36 am
      by Huddy


      I like him if JJ hadn’t opted in and Tucker was essentially taking over his cap space and leaving a good chunk to go after a starting caliber guy still (assuming Monroe is signed and others aren’t moved).  Its just tough for me to be ok with using half the available money to secure the 3rd guy that is a lower level or iffy starter at SG/SF.  I really prefer to use all the FA money to solve a position of need as opposed to hoping that between 3-4 guys it will work out ok.  I think the team could be successful with some combination of Tucker/KCP/Singler at the 2/3 positions with a smarter PG.  No one FA move would be in a vacuum so assuming adding PJ Tucker isn’t all that happens with the team I could get behind it.

  • Jun 3, 201410:42 am
    by Matt


    If you’re looking at Suns players, Gerald Green and/or Channing Frye would be better fits here.  Of course, Frye is has a player option and Green isn’t a FA until next season.  Tucker is a great rebounder, definitely a tough player but not a good enough perimeter threat.  Pistons need to get Anthony Morrow in free agency.

  • Jun 3, 201410:55 am
    by Mr Carter


    Id rather trade Smith for some kind of cap relief(ie: Toronto for Novak/Fields/pick #20), sign Luol Deng for SF and re-sign Monroe for PF. Starting lineup of Jennings/Fields/Deng/Monroe/Drummond with Bynum/KCP/Singler/Jerebko/Harrelson sounds a lot better to me

    • Jun 3, 20148:29 pm
      by Brady Fredericksen


      The idea is good, in theory, but there’s no team in the NBA that wants to start Landry Fields — let alone play him.

  • Jun 3, 20143:08 pm
    by Vic


    I like Tucker but he’s not enough to move KCP off of the two position or move Singler or JJ off of the three position. Not at 29. 

    • Jun 3, 20143:25 pm
      by Huddy


      Jerebko at the 3?  Really pulls him away from the basket when one of his best attributes is rebounding and pulls him away to shoot 3s, which he did well in a small sample last year, but has a history of being too quick to take (especially when he is positioned that way).  I think JJ is a liability on D at the 3, Tucker would be a better defender and shooter than JJ as well as one less player out of position.
      29 doesn’t bother me for a role player that isn’t an essential piece to the teams success 4-5 years in the future.  He could be a good influence on KCP/Singler and stick around for a couple of years.  If he is filling the need of a 3 and D player he can be replaced when his age starts to effect him (3 and D isn’t crazy to replace).  I certainly wouldn’t want to exchange a 29 year old Tucker for guys with similar ability/potential and beyond at much cheaper contracts that are much younger.  Adding him to that core doesn’t seem harmful though.

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