Report: Minnesota ‘expected to re-engage’ Rockets in trade talks for PJ Tucker

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Ben DuBose
·3 min read
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The Timberwolves could become a trade suitor for veteran Rockets forward PJ Tucker, per Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Gersson Rosas, now the president of basketball operations in Minnesota, was the No. 2 executive in Houston when Tucker was signed in July 2017.

“The Wolves have maintained contact with the Rockets on Tucker and were expected to re-engage now that Harden is gone,” Krawczynski writes. Kelly Iko, also of The Athletic, reports that multiple teams have inquired about Tucker’s availability and have expressed interest.

Minnesota’s first-round draft pick in 2021 will go to Golden State unless it is in the top three, so Krawczynski suggests that the Timberwolves might try to package “one or two of their role players.” With Tucker making nearly $8 million this season, Houston could theoretically take back a Minnesota salary or salaries in a range from approximately $5 million to $11 million. That range could grow, of course, if other Houston contracts in addition to Tucker are included in the hypothetical trade.

Now 35 years old, Tucker is currently in the final year of his contract, and he and the Rockets have yet to come to terms on an extension.

Even without an extension, it made sense to potentially keep Tucker when the Rockets were pushing forward with James Harden — a perennial All-Star guard and MVP finalist. But with Houston’s status as a title contender in doubt after the Harden trade, the upside of keeping Tucker for the 2020-21 season (without an extension) may not be enough to justify the risk of him leaving for no compensation in 2021 free agency.

Known for his versatile defense, toughness, and corner 3-point shooting, Tucker has averaged 6.8 points (37.4% on 3-pointers) and 5.9 rebounds in 32.0 minutes per game over his four seasons in Houston. A valued leader and key voice in the locker room, Tucker hasn’t missed a single game in either the regular season or playoffs for the Rockets.

Dating back to the 2012-13 season, Tucker has played in the most games of any NBA player. As such, even at 35, his market should be robust for both title contenders as well as younger teams like Minnesota who are seeking a steadying influence and locker-room presence.

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