Free Agent Focus: P.J. Tucker



  • 2013-14 Team: Phoenix Suns
  • Previous Team: Toronto Raptors
  • Key Stats 2013/14: 9.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.4 steals, 43.1 FG% and 38.7 3P% (on 2.4 attempts per game).
  • Estimated contract: 2-3 years, $15-20 million

Matters to No One But Me …

P.J. Tucker’s professional journey is one of those stories that sports are all about. After a solid career playing alongside LaMarcus Aldridge at Texas — playing power forward at 6-foot-5 — the former Big 12 Player of the Year left after his junior year only to be drafted by Toronto in the second round.

He lasted a year, playing little as a forward/post tweener before fading into obscurity. When I say obscurity, I mean it. He was cut to make room for Luke flippin’ Jackson. If you remember, Jackson was supposed to be the first of many great sidekicks for a young LeBron James in Cleveland. Yeah, that didn’t work out.

Anywho, the journeyman Tucker made his way through professional basketball overseas like a tourist vacationing in Europe. Over six seasons, Tucker played on seven European teams in five countries (including a lone year in Puerto Rico), slowly evolving from a super-undersized post into what we now love to call a 3-and-D wing.

There have been plenty of guys to flame out of the NBA early before going to Europe and returning years later, but Tucker did that AND transformed himself into a wing player. He hit just two 3-pointers in three seasons at Texas; he made 74 last season.

Fits with the Pistons because …

Well, he shoots the ball well and defends even better — seems to fill a void, no? With Rodney Stuckey heading into free agency, the Pistons current group of perimeter players is in sorry shape.

Tucker fits from a need point of view, but he also fits from a needing-guys-who-care point of view. Oh, and he fits because he’s kind of a badass (see what is he known for).

There’s just a level of toughness the Pistons lacked last year, and if Tucker brings an intangible like that — along with being a good defender and shooter — that’s big. He shot 44% (68-for-166) on corner 3-pointers this season, which would easily be No. 1 on the shooting-needy Pistons.

Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …

The Pistons might have an eerily similar player who’s younger and cheaper in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. While Caldwell-Pope has some of the same measurable attributes (both are 6-foot-5) and strengths (shooting and defense), I don’t think they’re the same mentality-wise.

Tucker’s intangibles would be extremely valuable — I’m big on intangibles/leadership and apparently so is Stan Van Gundy — but is that worth potentially $20 million?

Free Agent is …

… seeking a contract that keeps him in one place. I’d have to imagine being an NBA journeyman is a less-than-favorable way to spend your career. Tucker’s a níche player who can fit somewhere for more than just one season. He’s not a spring chicken at 29 years old, but I’d have to imagine he’s looking to find a place to cash in and stick — not a place to play for another one-year deal.

Best known for …

Remember how I said he was a badass? My problem with last season’s Pistons was the apathy. No one cared about anything, everyone looked like a zombie and there was no one on the team who, you know, commanded respect of their opponent.

Enter P.J. Tucker, Taker of No One’s Crap: