Rockets say they're attempting to trade P.J. Tucker
The defensive-minded veteran is reportedly seeking a trade to a contending team before the March 25 deadline.
From NBA.com Staff
Count Houston Rockets small-ball superstar P.J. Tucker among the recently benched for a better situation.
Following Thursday’s 125-105 loss to the Sacramento Kings — Houston’s 14th straight defeat — Houston coach Stephen Silas told reporters: “We’re going to try to figure out something that works for him and works for us as far as him not being on the team anymore.”
“I was under the assumption that he was going to be playing tonight and he didn’t play,” Silas said. “That was disappointing.
“Before the game I found out that he was not going to be playing. At some point there was some mutual agreement with P.J., his agent, (Rockets general manager Rafael Stone) and the organization that P.J. will not be with the team anymore.”
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon were first to report the news. Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports the Rockets are seeking a young player — as opposed to just Draft picks — in deals for Tucker. While the Rockets may want that in a trade for Tucker, other teams haven’t been willing to part with that kind of asset for Tucker, per Wojnarowski and MacMahon.
Stephen Silas on how decision was made for P.J. Tucker to sit out vs. Kings: "He decided that he was just not really with it, and we decided that that’s a good idea. Let’s move on." https://t.co/MRnUmr4Bhp
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) March 12, 2021
— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) March 12, 2021
Tucker traveled with the Rockets to Sacramento for their game against the Kings on Thursday night but did not play and was on his way back to Houston before the game ended. Wojnarowski and MacMahon report Tucker has grown frustrated that he hasn’t yet been moved to a contender and made it clear to the team he’d rather sit out games until the front office finds a deal for him before the March 25 trade deadline.
With Tucker, 35, averaging career lows in scoring (4.4 points) and shooting percentage (36.6), the Rockets initially planned to have Tucker come off the bench in the game against Sacramento. That would have ended Tucker’s streak of consecutive regular-season starts at 216 and would have been the first time that he came off the bench since Feb. 6, 2018.
He’s on pace to shoot career-lows in FG% (36.6%) and 3P% (31.4%).
“There is no secret it’s been a rough year. He’s been professional,” Silas said. “He’s been in the lineup and trying and doing what he can but at this point we’re going to do what’s best for the group and what’s best for P.J. and that’s probably not having him here.”
If he is traded, Tucker would be the third Houston starter from last season to be dealt away. The Rockets shipped Russell Westbrook to Washington in exchange for John Wall last December, then packaged James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets as part of a multi-team trade in January.
Tucker came to the Rockets as a free agent in 2017 after previous stops with the Phoenix Suns (2012-16) and the Toronto Raptors (2006-07; 2016-17). He immediately became a starter and was known for defending opposing teams’ top players. Last season, the 6-foot-5 Tucker finished as Houston’s small-ball starting center as the Rockets tried to speed up the game by not using a traditional big man.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.