1. Tucker’s counter-offer was incredibly unreasonable
The main reason why the Rockets were wise to decline Tucker’s asking price is simple: the proposal was unreasonable. As previously noted, Tucker isn’t getting any younger, but he’s also had a sharp decline across the board, although he could still provide defensive versatility to a contending team and a capability of playing as a small-ball five, which he was forced to do when the Rockets adopted the microball strategy in 2019-20.
Tucker’s asking price of $12 million annually prompted me to do a search across the league to explore just how it stacks up against others. The list of players in the annual $10-$12 million range on a multi-year deal is below and their ages are also listed:
- Robert Covington-$12.1 million (30-years-old)
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope-$12 million (28-years-old)
- T.J. Warren-$12 million (27-years-old)
- Jordan Clarkson-$11.5 million (28-years-old)
- Spencer Dinwiddie-$11.4 million (27-years-old)
- Dillon Brooks-$11.4 million (25-years-old)
- Dwight Powell-$11 million (29-years-old)
- Lonzo Ball-$11 million (23-years-old)
- Josh Richardson-$10.8 million (27-years-old)
- Joe Ingles-$10.8 million (33-years-old)
- Norman Powell-$10.8 million (27-years-old)
A quick glimpse shows that there aren’t any players of Tucker’s age who are making the $12 million annually that he’s seeking on a multi-year deal. In addition, Tucker seeking a fully-guaranteed deal is quite unrealistic.
A good comparison to the two-year offer that the Rockets gave Tucker is Serge Ibaka, who signed a two-year deal worth $18.9 million with the LA Clippers. At just 31-years-old, Ibaka is much younger than Tucker and is much more of a force on the offensive end (and in the rebounding column).
In spite of that, his deal is similar to the two-year $17 million that was offered by the Houston Rockets. Tucker may feel like the Rockets have been disloyal to him, which is understandable from his perspective, considering the injuries he’s played through, but the reality is that he won’t receive the offer he countered with on the open market.
For that reason, the Rockets were left with no choice but to reject his proposal.