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Can The Raptors Land The Suns P.J. Tucker?

With LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony holding the entire NBA free agent process hostage, movement on mid-tier players like the Suns 29-year-old restricted free agent (RFA) P.J. Tucker are solidly in stall mode, a situation that creates rampant speculation. However, Tucker could be the ideal fit in Toronto as the Raptors are looking for a big defensive wing and there are plenty of reasons why this one-time Raptor could be very much in play shortly.

The big reason RFAs have trouble getting market value offers from teams other than their own is their team – the Suns in this case – will almost always put the word out that they will match and keep their player. In other words, it’s pointless.

The only sure way to get the job done is to approach the RFA’s team and try to work out a deal that meets the needs of both the player and the team and often times, this just isn’t possible.

The Suns, however, despite having a lot of salary cap space to play with find themselves in an interesting position. With a record of 48-34 last season, this team looks poised to burst back into relevance in the Western Conference and they have set their sights on some big name free agents and have their own RFA Eric Bledsoe demanding a maximum contract for next season. Under these circumstances, it just might be possible to pry Tucker loose.

The Raptors, like several other potential suitors, could try to land Tucker with their mid-level exception – a move that almost surely forces the Suns to match in order to retain Tucker if for no other reason than to use him as a trade chip later. This typical situation usually ensures Tucker doesn’t see much action from teams other than his own.

Tucker put up stats last year that rival what the Raptors Patrick Patterson did, however, the 29-year-old Tucker doesn’t have the same upside or expected longevity. This could be Tucker’s last hurrah in the NBA and he doesn’t exactly have a long history in the league. The veteran C.J. Miles deal with the Pacers at $4.5 million per season is probably closer to market value rather than Patterson’s $6 million per season.

Toronto has another option other than using their MLE, however. The Raptors hold a $4.6 million trade exception (TPE) from the Rudy Gay trade last December and could put together a 3-year $14.5 million contract that would work under a sign and trade with the Suns. Toronto can include future draft picks with the TPE that do not impact on the Suns flexibility to go after other free agents and Bledsoe and just maybe that’s enough under the circumstances.

There isn’t likely to be a lot of movement on players in Tucker’s circumstances until some of the big names come off the board and teams like the Suns have a better idea of what could actually happen this summer. Tucker to the Raptors is in the range of possible, but unknown and unknowable until the air clears.

The bigger question just might be how Tucker would feel about backing up Terrence Ross in Toronto?


Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.



2 thoughts on “Can The Raptors Land The Suns P.J. Tucker?

  1. Ken

    Would you consider P J Tucker at 6.5 to be a big wing? Not that it really matters, what is important is his defensive abilities.

    I also saw an article suggesting, now that two roster spots are now potentially open (de Colo and Novak) Toronto should consider a training camp invite for Al Farouq Amincu. a cheaper defensive forward( free agent) option if P.J. is not available. But I understand that he has no real perimeter shooting ability to enhance his defensive abilities. I don’t remember seeing him play and have no idea how well he would fit into the roster. Any thoughts?

  2. Heatdreamer

    TPE trade for Matt Barnes as the clippers approach the Apron. Blatche no more than 3.2 million , Vasquez for 4.2 million. That is 10.8 million and the raptors are under the luxury tax by $300,000.
    Hayes ,Fields , Barnes , Williams, Hansbrough & Amir free agents or team option that can be released. Allowing for a reduction of salaries totaling 32 million including the Camby attribution.

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