The reunions aren’t over.
P.J. Tucker and the Sixers are expected to finalize a three-year, $33.2 million deal, a source confirmed Thursday night to NBC Sports Philadelphia. The Athletic's Shams Charania first reported the news.
This is Tucker’s second time teaming up with Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey and star guard James Harden. That trio spent three very successful full seasons together in Houston. The 2017-18 Rockets won 65 regular-season games and led Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals against the Warriors by 11 points at halftime, but Houston missed an inconceivable 27 straight three-pointers in a bitter loss.
At 37 years old, Tucker will be hoping to claim his second NBA title. He won his first with the Bucks in 2021 and came close to another Finals trip this year as an important member of the Heat.
Miami beat the Sixers in Round 2 and Harden didn’t exactly heap praise on his former teammate as that series unfolded.
“P.J. is P.J.,” Harden said of Tucker’s defense after Game 1. “He plays hard. But that’s not something I’m worried about.”
Still, it’s obvious both Harden and All-Star Sixers big man Joel Embiid appreciate Tucker’s value outside of traditional box score statistics. In describing why he’d like to see the Sixers acquire tough, physical players this offseason after their Game 6 defeat to Miami, Embiid named Tucker.
One of Tucker’s best attributes is that he’s exceptional in terms of both willingness and ability to defend stars. He’s a low-usage, limited offensive player, but Tucker is glad to shoot open jumpers and made a career-high 41.5 percent of his threes last season. Tucker’s 0.93 assist-to-usage ratio was also the highest of his career, per Cleaning the Glass, as he assumed more playmaking responsibility when Bam Adebayo was sidelined after undergoing thumb surgery.
While thirty-seven isn’t old outside of basketball, age and health-related questions are valid for any NBA player in his late 30s. At the moment, Tucker has a durable reputation. He’s played in 82 games on three occasions.
His next game should be alongside Harden, who helped make signing Tucker with the non-taxpayer mid-level exception possible by declining his player option.