It’s February, which means the NBA trade deadline is right around the corner. Historically, most moves happen close to the trade deadline. Teams want to know what they have and evaluate how strong their assets are for as long as possible before making a deal. It’s no secret how it all works, the contenders try to make trades that give their team a better chance at the title, and everyone else makes trades to try to get future assets, draft picks, or cut some salary.
Every team has a number of options on the table. As Stan Van Gundy once said, “Everyone in the league is available for the right price!” With that in mind, let’s look at some players that could be available at the deadline, and what it would take for the Wizards to get them. Next up: P.J. Tucker.
If you’ve been following our trade deadline preview pieces, you’ve read about what it might take for the Wizards to get Serge Ibaka (now traded to Toronto) and Lou Williams (thanks to The Ringer for getting the ball rolling on this one). Ibaka would have improved the team’s starting lineup for a playoff run, while Lou Williams would improve the team’s dismal bench scoring.
But what if the Wizards went for a lockdown defender instead? Despite their inability to score, they would be able to keep other teams in check.
That’s the thought behind the next player in our trade series; PJ Tucker. He’s not a sexy option like Ibaka or Williams, but he could offer just as much value to the Wizards this season at a lower cost.
A spark plug off the bench for the Phoenix Suns, Tucker’s one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, and a mentor for the team’s younger players. However, he is also on an expiring contract, so the Suns are exploring their trade options. The Suns are reportedly seeking a first round pick for Tucker, but so far, the best offer they’ve received is the Clippers’ second round pick.
3 and D players are becoming increasingly valuable in the modern NBA, and Tucker is the epitome of that kind of player. When the Wizards have to face players like Paul George, Jimmy Butler, DeMar DeRozan, and LeBron James in the playoffs, a player like Tucker gives them a much better chance at slowing them down. Tucker could also be the perfect mentor for Kelly Oubre Jr. and help him become a more refined 3 and D specialist.
Tucker’s ability to guard 4’s would address the team’s need for a backup power forward, and would help stretch the floor for the second unit.
With that in mind, here are three options the Wizards could explore.
Wizards receive: P.J. Tucker
Suns receive: Washington’s 2017 second round pick, Trey Burke, and Marcus Thornton
Here is a buy-low trade option that may be enough for the Suns. Trey Burke is a restricted free agent with a low cap hold, and player control is very useful for a rebuilding team like the Suns. Thornton is salary filler, and the pick would be a useful asset to the Suns. The Suns could even reverse protect the pick 45-60 until 2019 so they could ensure the pick would be in the useful part of the second round.
Here is a buy-low trade option that may be enough for the Suns. Trey Burke is a restricted free agent with a low cap hold, that type of player control is very useful for a rebuilding team like the Suns. Thornton is salary filler, and the pick would be a useful asset to the Suns. The Suns could even reverse protect the pick 45-60 until 2019 so they could ensure the pick would be more useful than the pick the Clippers are offering.
Wizards receive: P.J. Tucker
Suns receive: Washington’s 2017 second round pick and Jason Smith
Between Tyson Chandler, Marquese Chriss, Alex Len, Alan Williams, and former Wizard Jared Dudley, the Suns have a ton of big man depth. However, two of those players (Len and Williams) are on expiring deals, so if the Suns wanted a cheap backup center option for the future, this might be enough for Tucker.
Wizards Receive: P.J. Tucker, Leandro Barbosa
Suns Receive: Washington’s 2017 first round pick, Trey Burke, Andrew Nicholson
This trade might be a win-win for both sides. The Wizards would have to trade a first round pick to get Nicholson’s deal off the books, and the Suns desperately want a first for Tucker. Adding Barbosa, another veteran with playoff experience that doesn’t fit in Phoenix’s rebuild, and maybe we’ve got ourselves a deal.