76ers Rumors: Joel Embiid Gave 'Strong Backing' to P.J. Tucker Pursuit in Free Agency

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJune 23, 2022

MIAMI, FL - MAY 19: P.J. Tucker #17 of the Miami Heat handles the ball against the Boston Celtics during Game 2 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals on May 19, 2022 at The FTX Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

The Philadelphia 76ers are reportedly a "clear favorite" to sign P.J. Tucker in free agency if he leaves the Miami Heat, a move that has the "strong backing" of Joel Embiid, according to NBA reporter Marc Stein.

Tucker will reportedly hit the open market after declining his $7.4 million option with the Heat, per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.

The 37-year-old started 70 of the 71 regular-season games that he played for Miami this past year, plus all 18 playoff games. He averaged 7.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game during the regular season and shot a career-best 41.5 percent from three-point range.

Tucker helped the Heat reach the Eastern Conference Finals this past season, one year after playing every game in the Milwaukee Bucks' run to the NBA title.

The veteran has played in 91 playoff games in his career, including three trips to the conference finals. His experience would be a perfect fit for the 76ers, who haven't gotten past the second round since Allen Iverson was on the team in 2001.

Embiid has turned himself into an MVP candidate and led Philadelphia to the Eastern Conference Semifinals in four of the last five years, but the team clearly needs help getting beyond that.

If James Harden returns to the Sixers in 2022-23, they should have more than enough offense on the roster. Embiid won the scoring title last season with 30.6 points per game, while Harden has three scoring titles on his resume. Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris are also capable of big games.

Tucker, on the other hand, would bring much-needed defensive help as someone who can match up with multiple positions either in the post or on the perimeter. His outside shooting also makes him a valuable player on a contending team.

The forward already has experience with Harden and 76ers president Daryl Morey from his time with the Houston Rockets, but Embiid's approval could make this an obvious fit for 2022-23.