#1 P.J. Tucker
P.J. Tucker has ingratiated himself to Rockets’ fans over the past three seasons through his tough and selfless play. The NBA’s foremost sneaker collector has been integral to all of the Rockets’ success over recent seasons.
His defensive versatility and reliability from the corners have made him an indispensable role player next to James Harden. Last season, without Tucker’s ability to play bigger than his 6’5 frame would suggest It’s likely that micro ball would have been an unimaginable course of action.
NBA champions need players like P.J. Tucker to do the dirty work so their stars can shine. He played his role admirably but the times are changing in Houston.
Tucker is 35-years-old, in the last year of his contract and it looks like the Rockets are taking a step back this season. Players in his situation are routinely moved for future assets to replenish an aging roster.
The Rockets will want to keep Tucker around at the beginning of the season to see what their current roster has. However, if the team begins to fade in the standings then he’ll be one of the first players that the Rockets will shop.
Players that possess his defensive versatility and 3-point shooting ability are the belles of the trade deadline ball. His $7.9 million salary might take some teams out of the running but those with the cap space will be willing to pay a handsome price for his services.
The Rockets should look secure a late first-round pick in a deal and due to his age, there is little chance they’d show much interest in extending him in the offseason anyways. Trading Tucker would feel like the proverbial nail in the coffin for the Rockets’ team that was one of the best in the league over the past five seasons.
No Rockets fan wants to see Tucker in the playoffs for another franchise but it’s looking more and more like a reality. He’ll always be a fan favorite but the modern NBA doesn’t care about that type of loyalty, it values future assets and pick-swaps over the fan and player connection.
The Rockets are going through a transitional season and many familiar faces will continue to head out the door. Without James Harden they will be hard pressed to be a serious contender and allowing P.J. Tucker to play out his contract somewhere else will allow for a new generation to take the reins.