The Milwaukee Bucks acquire forward P.J. Houston Rockets’ Tucker in a deal to bolster the franchise’s playoff push in the Eastern Conference, sources told ESPN.
Jon Horst, general manager of Bucks, had been following Tucker tenaciously for the past few weeks, and a deal was signed with Rockets GM Rafael Stone late Wednesday afternoon.
The goats send guard D.J. Augustin and Forward D.J. Wilson on the Rockets for Tucker and Forward Rodions Kurucs, sources said. The key to closing the deal lies in redirecting draft picks that the two teams traded earlier in the off-season. Houston is postponing the selection for the first round in 2022, which Milwaukee owes to the unprotected 2023 draft. The Rockets have the right to swap their selection for the second round 2021 for the selection for the first round of the Bucks in 2021 – unless the selection for the bucks somehow falls to 1-9, sources said.
In essence, from the end of the first round – where they will presumably pick this season – through to the top of the second round, where the Rockets – who hold the second worst record – some slots back in the league – seem destined to land .
Milwaukee is also trading Torrey Craig on to the Phoenix Suns in a separate deal, sources said. The Suns are not sending any player back to the dollars in the deal for Craig, sources said. Craig couldn’t find a rotating role in Milwaukee after leaving the Denver Nuggets to sign a free agent deal in the off-season, but he arrives in Phoenix with defensive versatility and a playoff-tested pedigree.
Tucker, 35, is the key to trading for the bucks who were determined to bring his defensive and playoff experience to their playoff push. Tucker and the Missiles recently decided to back off the team until a deal could be found. The Rockets, fraught with injuries and one loss of 18 games, go into recovery mode. The Bucks are 26-14, 1½ games behind Philadelphia and Brooklyn at the top of the Eastern Conference. They have won 10 of their last 11 games, including a 109-105 overtime win over the 76ers on Wednesday night.
The Rockets could have three first-round picks in the 2021 draft: Milwaukee’s, Portland’s, and either their own top 4 protected picks or Miami’s from Oklahoma City’s three-way swap rights.
Tucker was a major role-player during his three and a half year tenure with the Rockets, contributing significantly more than his average of 6.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game indicate. He often defended the opponent’s top scorer – he played in the center despite standing only 6-foot-5 in Houston’s short-lived experiment with small balls last season – and served primarily as a 3-point corner threat that hit the ground offensive distributed. Tucker is in the final season of a four-year contract for $ 32 million. The Rockets didn’t guarantee the last year of the deal until February 2020.
Tucker, who played 267 straight games until an injured thigh sidelined him for two games in February, signed up for training camp late in the fall, admitting he felt unappreciated after the breakdown of contract extension discussions.
The Rockets thought they were on the verge of signing Tucker for a two-year extension for $ 17 million with a guaranteed $ 10 million contract, sources said, but the Houston front office declined after Tucker’s camp came up with a proposal for a fully guaranteed two-year contract worth $ 24 million countered.
Tucker has struggled this season after the Rockets were mixed up following Russell Westbrook and James Harden’s trades. He made career lows in points per game (4.4), field goal percentage (36.6%) and 3-point percentage (31.4%).
ESPN’s Tim MacMahon contributed to this report.