Houston Rockets forward P.J. Tucker is a sure bet to get traded, as his 3-and-D skillset would be pivotal to contending teams. The list of teams that are interested in the 35-year-old forward is rather lengthy, as it’s been reported that the Milwaukee Bucks, Utah Jazz, Minnesota Timberwolves, Philadelphia 76ers, and Brooklyn Nets all have interest, to name a few.
One of the other teams that has been heavily linked to Tucker is the Los Angeles Lakers, who currently rank third in the Western Conference after finishing with the top seed in the West and winning the title in 2019-20. The Lakers have dealt with injuries to star forward Anthony Davis, which has been a huge factor in their regression this season.
The Lakers certainly have a need for a versatile defender like Tucker, who can defend every position on the floor and can be inserted as a small-ball center, when need be. But just because the need is there doesn’t mean a move will be made.
According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the Lakers are likely not going to pursue Tucker via trade, which he stated on his Hoop Collective podcast.
Will Houston Rockets forward P.J. Tucker be sent to the Lakers?
“I do not expect the Lakers to make a trade.”
Part of the challenge for the Lakers is that they don’t have the ability to give the Rockets any young players that could remain with the team long-term, which is what the Rockets are reportedly seeking for Tucker. The closest thing the Lakers could offer is Talen Horton-Tucker, who becomes a restricted free agent this summer.
One of the more speculated theories on social media is that the Lakers would be willing to include Montrezl Harrell in a swap for Tucker, but it’s hard to see the Rockets being interested in Harrell, who has a player option at the end of the season, which will allow him to seek a bigger payday in free agency than the team-friendly $9.7 million that he’s scheduled to make next season.
The Lakers also don’t have the ability to trade a first-round pick, due to the trade they made with the New Orleans Pelicans in 2019, which sent a bevy of assets in exchange for Davis. Windhorst added more on the Lakers’ situation and their desire to make roster improvements.
“In talking to executives throughout the league, when the Lakers have had trade discussions recently, they’ve indicated that they were looking for big man help, which implies that they want more reinforcements there.”
The Lakers’ best chance of getting Tucker is via buyout and the Houston Rockets have no reason to explore such a path, as they wouldn’t receive any capital in return, and would also have to pay to see Tucker join another team.
But based on Windhorst’s prediction that the Lakers won’t make a trade at all, it seems their best bet is pursuing a player who will be bought out and/or has already been. For that reason we can probably take them off of the list of teams that the Houston Rockets could look to send Tucker to.