Phoenix Suns forward P.J. Tucker has been suspended for the first three games of the 2014-15 NBA regular season after pleading guilty to a May charge of driving under the influence in Arizona, the league announced Monday.
The NBA's public relations staff reported the news, as retweeted by Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today:
RT @NBAPR: Suns F P.J. Tucker suspended three games without pay for pleading guilty to driving while under the extreme influence in Arizona.— Jeff Zillgitt (@JeffZillgitt) August 12, 2014
Tucker, 29, was arrested in May and held on "super extreme DUI" charges. Arizona law dictates an additional penalty be placed on drivers who are operating a motor vehicle at more than two-and-a-half times the legal limit. A blood screening showed Tucker's blood alcohol content to be .222. Arizona requires drivers to be at a threshold .08 or lower.
Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic reported last week that Tucker will spend three days in jail and be forced to spend 11 days on house arrest as part of a guilty plea entered in Scottsdale court. As part of the plea, Tucker will install an interlock device on his car for 18 months, preventing him from driving under the influence. He will also pay a $2,750 fine.
"I am truly sorry and I take full responsibility for my actions," Tucker said in a statement. "No excuses. It is now my responsibility to examine my life and make the changes necessary to ensure this never happens again. That process has begun and will continue with the love and support of my family, friends and, of course, the amazing Phoenix Suns."
The Suns re-signed Tucker this offseason on a three-year, $16.5 million contract. The team was aware of the arrest before the contract was signed. President of basketball operations Lon Babby released a statement in conjunction with his guilty plea last week, per Coro:
In considering this matter, we 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. The Suns do not in any way condone his conduct, but we do support him as he works through this.
A journeyman who spent five full seasons playing overseas between NBA stops, Tucker found a home in Phoenix. He averaged 9.4 points and 6.5 rebounds on 43.1 percent shooting last season, starting 81 of a possible 82 games. One of the Suns' most vocal leaders and an on-court enforcer, Tucker gained respect in the organization for his bulldog mentality.
Get that money, P.J. Tucker. I respect the grind. He defended with 100% intensity in what appeared to be meaningless games for a long time.— D.J. Foster (@fosterdj) July 11, 2014
Of course, Tucker's competitiveness can often get the best of him. The one game he missed last season was as the result of a one-game suspension for striking Clippers forward Blake Griffin in the throat.
There have also been questions raised about his true on-court worth. Tucker upped his three-point percentage to a solid 38.7 percent last season, but an overwhelming number of his 191 attempts came of the easy corner variety. His role offensively essentially comes down to standing in a corner and crashing the offensive glass.
What's more, Phoenix actually allowed two fewer points per 100 possessions with Tucker on the bench. On-off splits can be a little tricky to parse from a correlation-causation sense, but it's fair to wonder whether the Suns overpaid a bit.
The former Texas star is nonetheless currently slated for the team's starting small forward spot. He will be eligible to compete in preseason games and practice with the team throughout camp. It's worth noting the Suns used their first-round pick on a player who occupies his position.
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(All stats via NBA.com)