NBA Free Agency starts June 30th, but the Sixers rumors have been flying for quite some time now. Once the Brooklyn Nets decided to defer the Sixers’ first round selection from this year’s draft, the speculation started about some possible big moves that could be coming around draft night. Well, draft night came and went, and the Sixers only made a beneficial ancillary move, trading pick #23 and Danny Green to the Memphis Grizzlies for 24 year old guard De’Anthony Melton. It was a nice trade for Philly, but it meant that they were most likely not done with their offseason changes. The next big milestone of the NBA Offseason is quickly approaching, and with it comes a growing number of reports that the next move Daryl Morey and co. will make will be a 3 year, $30mil contract to bring 37 year old PJ Tucker into the fold. The move isn’t concretely done, and will require some salary cap manipulation that will likely see some other players on their way out of Philly, but let’s discuss what Tucker could mean for Joel Embiid, James Harden, and the rest of the Sixers’ roster.
First of all, PJ Tucker would bring a veteran presence and an edge that this team hasn’t really had in the Joel Embiid era. They have had guys with similar mindsets (think Jimmy Butler), but not exactly in the playing style that Tucker employs. Embiid has publicly sang his praises multiple times, and clearly values the tenacity that the veteran forward plays with. If Joel likes him, that’s an immediate positive. This team revolves around the big man, and it seems like this is an ideal fit for his preferences. Also, it means that your bench unit improves as well. With PJ Tucker in the fold, Matisse Thybulle would move to the bench, creating a stronger defensive 2nd unit. It would also increase spacing in general because you wouldn’t have to worry about a player like Thybulle, who has not proven he can shoot at the NBA level to this point in his career, being in the starting lineup and allowing opposing defenses to double Joel Embiid. There are both obvious benefits, and secondary benefits from adding Tucker.
Now is the deal a comfortable one? I wouldn’t exactly say that. If most reports are correct, the Sixers would be paying Tucker into his age 40 season. I’d prefer to not be paying a 40 year old $10mil if I was Daryl Morey, but then again, there’s a reason I’m not Daryl Morey. If there is a team option for the last year of the contract, then that makes this move more palatable. However if that is not the case, the move could put the Sixers in position where they’ll be looking to offload another veteran contract in the next couple seasons. On the court, it looks like Tucker works though, and he is respected by his (potential) new teammates already. Hopefully if this addition goes through, it’s one that can push the Sixers closer to getting over the hump.