Suns Get Healthy with P.J. Tucker Eying Early Comeback
Annexus Practice Report: Suns Building Momentum
P.J. Tucker has appeared in 153 consecutive games dating back to November of 2014, and if he has it his way, that streak won’t end when the Suns tip off their season next Wednesday against the Kings.
Tucker, who was initially expected to miss at least a few games after undergoing back surgery last month, has returned to the practice court and is participating in 3-on-3 scrimmages. There is now optimism that the 31-year-old could suit up in the Suns’ regular season opener.
"We're ahead of schedule," Tucker said. "Right now, we're saying probably the opener, but we'll see. I still have to progress more to that day, so right now it's a day-by-day process."
Added Head Coach Earl Watson, “We all know his toughness has always been there. He doesn’t like to sit out games, he’s a competitor. He gives us that toughness and edge."
In 82 games last year, 80 of which were starts, Tucker averaged 8.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.3 steals.
T.J. Warren has started each preseason game at small forward in Tucker’s place, so it’s unclear what the rotation will look like when he returns. Regardless, the team is anxious to get its enforcer back on the floor.
“P.J. is a dog out there,” Tyson Chandler said. “He’s going to be physical and make it uncomfortable for whoever he’s guarding. He’s a big body, stronger than every player he’s going to go against. He creates havoc.”
If Tucker does play next Wednesday, that’ll likely mean the Suns will begin the season with a completely healthy roster. A few players like Chandler, Jared Dudley and Devin Booker have missed preseason time with minor ailments but are all expected to be fine for the regular season.
Friday’s exhibition finale in Southern California against the Lakers could see the Suns have their starting lineup on the floor together for the first time since the preseason opener versus the Spurs.
“It’ll be very important. We haven’t had it all preseason,” Watson said. “So for us, we have to get down our rotations, define roles and let players develop chemistry on the court that can only be done on the court.”