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Does P.J. Tucker have a legitimate gripe against the Rockets?

P.J. Tucker #17 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
P.J. Tucker #17 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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It’s well-known that P.J. Tucker is disgruntled with the Houston Rockets, but does he have a legitimate cause for frustration?

Houston Rockets defensive ace P.J. Tucker was absent from the opening day of Rockets training camp, which has led to much speculation from many Rockets fans. Will Tucker be traded? If so, where would he be dealt?

Could a deal take place with the Phoenix Suns to join former Rockets teammate Chris Paul? Or could he eventually be included in a deal to the Philadelphia 76ers, where he’d be reunited with former Rockets GM Daryl Morey?

While it’s unclear what will happen with Tucker, what couldn’t be more clear is that Tucker is unhappy about his contract situation. Over the past year Tucker has made public mention of his dissatisfaction with his contract multiple times, as he’s sought an extension on his contract that’s set to expire at the end of the 2020-21 season.

But does Tucker have a legitimate gripe about his deal? After all, Tucker was initially seeking a new deal prior to the start of the 2019-20 season, which would have essentially been shredding a deal that had two years left.

While this isn’t exactly uncommon, the complications for Tucker is that he’s set to turn 36-years-old prior to the end of the upcoming season and the Rockets have tacked on alot of mileage and wear-and-tear on his body. Part of this is because he’s so versatile, as evident by him playing the center position last season when the team fully committed to small ball.

Does Tucker have a legitimate gripe against the Houston Rockets?

Tucker’s value is unquestioned, as he’s led the league in corner threes in each of the last three years and has been the heart and soul of the Rockets, especially on the defensive end. But Tucker’s age makes it difficult for the Rockets, as they surely don’t want to be paying a 39-year-old north of $10 million per year.

Would he take a two-year band-aid? It’s quite possible, as we have yet to hear his contract demands, but one would also think Rockets GM Rafael Stone would have already inked the 3-and-D forward to a new deal if it were that easy.

Tucker has seen a myriad of changes since joining the franchise, most notably this offseason when Daryl Morey and Mike D’Antoni both abandoned the franchise, which comes heel after Tucker’s childhood friend Chris Paul was moved from the Rockets. Tucker acknowledged the change of direction among the franchise, as he pointed out that many of the players that were on the team when he first arrived have been replaced with younger guys.

To that point, Tucker certainly wants a commitment from the franchise as his NBA days wind down, so it’s understandable why not having an extension would be so bothersome for him. But the Rockets aren’t exactly handling this any different than any other team would, as a case could be made that such a move would be a bad business decision.

Part of the delay for Stone could be the uncertainty of James Harden’s situation, as the team would certainly not be as competitive without him, which would eliminate the need for a 35-year-old veteran forward like Tucker. In that scenario it would be best for both Tucker and the franchise to send him to a contender for future draft capital.

Although Tucker may not be pleased with his standing with the Rockets, the situation is fairly common in business. We don’t see 35-year-old players get long-term extensions very often, outside of superstars like LeBron James.

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In the meantime, Tucker’s best bet is to simply play along and play with the team, as this season will essentially be a job interview for teams that are interested in adding him.

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