The Sixers are expected to be in pursuit of veteran forward P.J. Tucker, and the idea reportedly has the strong backing of Joel Embiid, per league insider Marc Stein.
Tucker, 37, is opting out of his $7.4 million player option with Miami for next season to allow him to go to free agency, and although a few contending teams are believed to have interest, Stein maintains that Philadelphia is regarded as the favorite to sign him should he actually leave South Beach.
That Embiid is backing the charge for him is of little surprise also.
Tucker’s aggression and physicality gave the Sixers fits in their second-round playoff series against the Heat and were ultimately some of the factors that led to the Sixers getting sent home after six games.
Miami played with an edge. The Sixers just didn’t.
“When you have size and toughness, that goes a long way. You look at someone like P.J. Tucker, great player, but it’s not about him knocking down shots, it’s about what he does, whether it’s on the defensive end or rebounding the ball,” Embiid said. “Defensively, plays with so much energy, believes that he can get from point A to point B, and he believes that no can beat him, and he’s tough. He’s just physical and he’s tough, and they have a few of those guys.”
“Since I’ve been here, I’d be lying if I said we’ve had those type of guys. Nothing against what we have, it’s just the truth. We never have P.J. Tucker, that’s really what I’m trying to say. I think physicality, once you get to the playoffs or the later rounds, you need that, you need those guys that are really tough.”
Now whether the Sixers can afford Tucker is the big question.
That he’s opting of his current deal clearly points to a belief that he can get a higher-paying one, but the problem for the Sixers is their books are already pretty tight.
James Harden is expected to pick up his 2022-23 player option and return to the team on a “shorter-term deal” and word has gone around that the Sixers have been making calls all over the NBA about trade possibilities for Matisse Thybulle and the 23rd overall pick in Thursday night’s draft.
Still, if the Sixers want to move in on Tucker — or Eric Gordon — they’re going to need to find a way to clear space.
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