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Report: Teams interested in P.J. Tucker trade, Rockets want player in return (not picks)

Houston Rockets v New York Knicks

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 13: P.J. Tucker #17 of the Houston Rockets looks on during halftime against the New York Knicks on February 13, 2021 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

Houston — at 11-17, having lost seven straight, and sitting 13th in the West — is apparently thinking about making the play-in games or the playoffs, not rebuilding.

After trading James Harden to Brooklyn, it has been expected Houston would try to trade P.J. Tucker, a stretch four who can hit corner threes, is a strong defender, and who could step in and play a role on a contender. There is a lot of interest in Tucker, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said before the Heat vs. Lakers game on Saturday (hat tip Rockets Wire).

The key points from Wojnarowski:

“There’s a lot of interest among contenders” in a Tucker trade, and he goes on the mention the Lakers, Heat, Nets, and Bucks specifically.

“I’m told Houston wants back not picks, but a player that they can plug back into their lineup” in return for Tucker.

The interest among contenders was expected, but that Houston wants a player rather than picks speaks to them wanting to climb back up the standings or get a player who can help once Christian Wood returns, not try to fall to a better draft position. Part of that may be that Oklahoma City has swap rights on Houston’s first-round pick in the upcoming draft (OKC can select the most favorable of Houston, Miami, or their pick this draft).

Tucker has struggled this season at age 35, averaging 4.7 points a game and shooting 32.9% from three. Other teams feel that may be more situation than age and believe if Tucker were in their locker room and system things would pick up.

Expect the Tucker rumors to heat up as we move closer to the March 25 trade deadline.