76ers Rumors: Rivals Convinced Heat FA PJ Tucker Will Sign Philly Contract over Nets

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJune 27, 2022

BOSTON, MA - MAY 27: Grant Williams #12 of the Boston Celtics plays defense on P.J. Tucker #17 of the Miami Heat during Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals on May 27, 2022 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.  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 Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

P.J. Tucker is looking increasingly bound for Philadelphia.

Marc Stein reported "numerous rival teams" have become convinced Tucker will sign with the Sixers on a three-year, $30 million contract when free agency gets underway. It would reportedly be a "surprise" if the Miami Heat were able to re-sign the veteran forward.

Tucker declined his $7.4 million option last week, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent. He's coming off a stellar season in Miami, averaging 7.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists while continuing to flash versatility on the defensive end at age 37.

"I love P.J., man. I'll play with P.J. seven days a week and twice on Sundays," Heat teammate Udonis Haslem told Couper Moorhead of NBA.com in December. "What doesn't he do? He might lead us in offensive rebounds. He comes flying in. Giving us extra possessions. He's taking charges. He switches pick-and-rolls. He accepts every matchup. He never complains about plays. He only complains about bad defense. That's the kind of teammate that I want."

Tucker has preexisting relationships with Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey and guard James Harden dating back to their time in Houston. He was the Rockets' most important defender on their 2018 team that pushed the Golden State Warriors to seven games in the Western Conference Finals.

Stein previously reported the Sixers' pursuit of Tucker received the "strong backing" of center Joel Embiid.

Paying a player of Tucker's advancing age $10 million per year on a multiyear contract is, at the very least, a calculated risk. Age could catch up to Tucker and make him borderline unplayable at some point in the contract. He's not enough of a plus on the offensive end to keep him on the floor if his defense slips.

That said, the Sixers could use an infusion of ruggedness in their locker room, so the risk could be worth the reward.