Suns' P.J. Tucker suspended 3 games without pay for pleading guilty to 'super extreme DUI' charge

Dan Devine
August 12, 2014
P.J. Tucker's arrest booking photo. (AP/Scottsdale Police Department)
P.J. Tucker's arrest booking photo. (AP/Scottsdale Police Department)

Phoenix Suns small forward P.J. Tucker has been suspended without pay for three games for pleading guilty to a "super extreme" charge of driving under the influence, the NBA announced Tuesday.

Tucker, 29, was sentenced last week to three days in jail and 11 days of home detention after pleading guilty to driving under the influence on May 10. The former University of Texas standout was stopped by Scottsdale, Ariz., police after running a stop sign and making a pair of wide left turns; he showed "thick and slurred" speech, "watery and bloodshot" eyes and a "powerful" alcohol odor, according to the police report, and "stumbled to the side and caught himself on a construction fence" during a field sobriety test.

A preliminary breath test prior to Tucker's arrest pegged his blood alcohol level at .201, more than twice Arizona's legal limit of .08. Blood analysis of a second test taken after Tucker was arrested and taken to jail registered a blood alcohol content of .222, nearly three times the legal limit. (Anything over .20 constitute a "super extreme" DUI under Arizona law; violations between .15 and .20 are merely "extreme.")

Conviction on the "super extreme" charge can carry a 45-day jail sentence, but "Tucker also agreed to install an interlock ignition device on his car for 18 months to reduced jail time," according to Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic, which reduced his sentence. Tucker also received five years' probation, must submit to substance abuse screening and counseling, and owes $2,750 in fines, plus court and jail costs.

"I am truly sorry and I take full responsibility for my actions. No excuses," Tucker said in a prepared statement following his sentencing. "It is now my responsibility to examine my life and make the changes necessary to ensure this never happens again."

Tucker's three-game suspension represents an increase over what the NBA has handed out in DUI cases in the recent past. Then-Brooklyn Nets head coach Jason Kidd received a two-game suspension for pleading guilty to driving while impaired while he was a member of the New York Knicks. Ditto for former Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks forward Devin Ebanks, who pleaded no contest in a case related to a 2012 DUI charge. It's still two games less than registering a third positive test for marijuana use.

The Suns knew about Tucker's arrest before they gave the free-agent forward a new three-year, $16.5 million contract in July. Team president of basketball operations Lon Babby said after Tucker's sentencing that Phoenix "concluded that P.J. was sincere in his remorse and in his resolve to accept the consequences of his actions."

"We are convinced that he will take the necessary steps to avoid any such conduct in the future," Babby said in a team statement. "The Suns do not in any way condone his conduct, but we do support him as he works through this."

Fourth-year man Marcus Morris, athletic swingman Gerald Green and 2014 first-round draft pick T.J. Warren would figure to be head coach Jeff Hornacek's most likely options to take Tucker's place at the three spot to start the season.

A second-round draft in the 2006 NBA draft, Tucker spent one season with the Toronto Raptors before moving to Europe for stints in Israel, Ukraine, Greece, Italy and Germany. He joining Phoenix before the 2012-13 season on a two-year, veteran's-minimum deal. He made 81 starts last season, contributing 9.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.4 steals per game, shooting 38.7 percent from 3-point range and regularly guarding opponents' top perimeter scorers.

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Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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