There’s no question that P.J. Tucker was one of the best values in the NBA this season, as he made just under $900k and personified the heart, hustle and desire of the 2013-14 Phoenix Suns. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer, which begs the question — what is P.J. Tucker worth?
WHAT TUCKER BRINGS
We talked about the intangibles that Tucker brings, which can’t be properly shown through any stat tables or league leaders. Tucker always drew the toughest assignment, having to guard the likes of Kevin Durant and LeBron James, with relative success (we’ll come back to this). He also became very important on the glass for a team that badly needed the help, as his 11.9 percent was third on the team among regulars behind Miles Plumlee (18.0) and Markieff Morris (12.7) in total rebounding percentage.
Tucker was also very adept at knocking down the corner three, which was a staple of the Suns offense. With Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe slashing and drawing attention, Tucker was able to plant his heels and fire away. He shot 38.9 percent total and made 41.2 percent from the corner.
Back to the defense for a second. There’s no player alive who is going to stop James or Durant. Looking at the statistics isn’t going to give us an accurate representation of Tucker’s ability.
With that, 82games.com has Tucker holding small forwards to an efficiency rating of 15.8, which is just above average. That number doesn’t jump out at us as anything all that impressive, but again, we have to consider that Tucker makes next to nothing and played 80 games (starting all 80).
WHAT SHOULD HIS ROLE BE?
Should Tucker be a starter in the NBA? No. He’s a valuable commodity as a defender and 3-point shooter, but he’s more of a sixth or seventh-man who could provide a spark off the bench. When I watch Tucker, it makes me imagine a bigger, stronger, poorer version Bruce Bowen.
The Suns would love to have him back but there’s no doubt that he’ll command a lot of attention on the open market. Ultimately, it will come down to Tucker’s desire to get paid against his desire to be a part of a winning team. If he can get both, God bless him.
HOW MUCH SHOULD HE GET?
Tucker will turn 29 on May 5th, which means this will likely be his only opportunity to get a multi-year deal worth anything significant. The Suns will have some space to bring him back but they also have to deal with the Bledsoe contract and they’ll be in the running for an upgrade at the small forward position.
The best offer Tucker gets should be in the 2-3 year range, with a total value of $8-12 million. The Suns could definitely afford to bring him back at that amount, but it’s going to be heavily contingent on the free agent market, specifically on Luol Deng.
Don’t forget, the Suns were among the teams rumored to snag Deng during the season. Now that he’ll be available without having to give up any assets, the Suns would be wise to jump all over him.
The best scenario would be for the Suns to snag Deng and bring Tucker back. P.J. is a great influence on the court and in the locker room. Bringing him off the bench (or even playing Bledsoe/Tucker/Deng together) would give the Suns a terrific perimeter defensive trio that would hide some of the interior defensive issues. Let’s hope general manager Ryan McDonough can get that done.
Tags: Phoenix Suns