Underpaid P.J. Tucker Wants Long-Term Deal to 'Retire a Sun'

Andy Bailey@@AndrewDBaileyFeatured ColumnistMarch 29, 2014

Los Angeles Clippers' DeAndre Jordan defends as Phoenix Suns' P.J. Tucker, right, drives during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, March 4, 2014, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Matt York

If you follow the NBA, hearing about players wanting to retire with a specific team is pretty common.

But such quotes aren't generally coming from role guys who've played just under two full seasons in the league.

P.J. Tucker of the Phoenix Suns would break the mold of the lifelong (insert team name here) if he finished his career with this organization.

If he has his way, it's something he intends to do. Following the Suns win over the New York Knicks, Tucker said, according to Arizona Central's Paul Coro:

They brought me here. I think I exceeded their expectations and mine with what has transpired. Of course, I want to retire a Sun.

The love I have for this organization will always be. They gave me a chance to prove myself and actually to prove that I'm a player in this league. It's almost emotional for me to think about everything I've been through and for them to give me an opportunity to do it.

When I sit back and think about it, which I never do, it's too much. So I'll always be indebted.

Tucker will be a restricted free agent this offseason, and he's certainly due for a raise.

He's started 72 of Phoenix's 73 games this season and is averaging 9.6 points and 6.6 rebounds while shooting 40.4 percent from three-point range. Those numbers are worth more than the $884,000 he's on the hook for this year.

In fact, Coro notes that Forbes called Tucker the most underpaid player in the NBA.

Some team will likely offer him much more than that in the offseason, and the Suns will have a chance to match any deal Tucker signs. 

His toughness and defense will make him hard to give up. Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said, via Coro:

It helps when you've got a guy who can at least make a great scorer work for his points. You're not having to scramble. You're not having to do all kind of defensive things to just stop one guys and then all of a sudden everybody else gets going. We put a lot of pressure on him to guard those guys and he does a great job.

Defensive specialists are a critical part of the NBA's most successful teams, and Tucker has the toughness and attitude to be just that for the Suns.

Defense will be a big part of the Suns taking the next step in 2014-15, and Tucker could be their leader on that end.

Andy Bailey covers the NBA for Bleacher Report.


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