The Houston Rockets have reportedly agreed to terms on a trade that will send P.J. Tucker, Rodions Kurucs, and Milwaukee’s 2022 first-round pick, acquired from Cleveland as part of the James Harden trade, to the Milwaukee Bucks for D.J. Augustin, D.J. Wilson, Milwaukee’s 2023 first-round pick, and the right to swap their 2021 second-round pick for the Bucks’ first-round pick. The Rockets and Tucker, after three and a half seasons together, have finally parted ways, with Tucker being given a chance to compete for a title and the Rockets acquiring additional resources for the future.
Every trade has a winner and loser but knowing who comes out on top can take years to determine. However, trades, even right as they happen, have clear cut value and this is how the Rockets grade out in their trade of P.J. Tucker.
Houston Rockets: Grading the P.J. Tucker trade
The P.J. Tucker trade had been a long time coming and the Rockets’ initial asking price of a first-round pick or three second-round picks ended up not being satisfied. While the return for Tucker, based upon initial expectations, came in a little light the Rockets did extract a decent return.
Houston Rockets: Grading the P.J. Tucker trade draft capital
As it pertains to the draft pick compensation, the Rockets really just netted a swap of their 2021 second-round pick for the Bucks’ 2021 first-round pick. While on the surface this reads like an absolute steal it should be noted that the Rockets likely only moved up ten spots, at most, in the draft.
At this moment the Rockets’ second-round pick is the 33rd overall pick and the Bucks’ first-round pick is the 25th pick. If this holds, the Rockets will have only moved up eight total spots if they swap picks.
While the swap is top-nine protected, the Bucks are in no position to fall into the lottery so the Rockets are likely looking at moving up from the top of the second-round to the bottom of the first-round in the draft. There is value in this move but in reality, it moves the needle very little.
The Rockets also swapped the Bucks 2022 first-round pick for their 2023 first-round pick as part of the deal. The benefit here is that due to the Bucks’ current roster construction, as a veteran team, there is a better chance that the Bucks 2023 pick is more valuable than their 2022 pick but likely not by much.
When it comes to draft pick compensation the Rockets likely improved their picks by a total of ten spots in the draft. Once again, this isn’t nothing, but it’s hardly a steal. When analyzing the players moved in the trade the Rockets did a little bit better.
Houston Rockets: Grading the P.J. Tucker trade players in return
D.J. Wilson is on an expiring deal and is likely headed to free agency looking to command a small deal. D.J. Augustin is under contract for two more seasons and his final year is not fully guaranteed.
Augustin is a solid NBA back-up point guard at a reasonable price but his trade value won’t net you anything more than a second-round pick or a highly protected first-round pick. However, moving an expiring contract for a player with multiple years of team control has value in that it allows you to dip your toes back into the trade market.
Houston Rockets P.J. Tucker trade grade: C
The Rockets wanted a dollar for P.J. Tucker and ended up getting a quarter, two dimes, and a nickel. The market for Tucker never materialized the way the Rockets had hoped because of his decline in play this season and the Rockets did well to get what they could for him, but they’re likely disappointed in the value they received for a player who once looked like a valuable trade asset.