Even if the Miami Heat don’t make a star-sized move before February’s trade deadline, they could aim to make minor tweaks to the roster ahead of a playoff push. That could lead them back to a second go-around with a fan favorite.
According to NBA Insider Marc Stein, the Heat and have been linked to disgruntled LA Clippers forward P.J. Tucker.
In a recent edition of his newsletter, Stein reported the Heat and Milwaukee Bucks have expressed “a healthy level of admiration” for Tucker, who has been frustrated with his lack of playing time.
While bringing P.J. Tucker back could be helpful, the move might not be realistic for the Miami Heat before the deadline.
Tucker hasn’t played in a game for the Clippers since Nov. 28, and the team could explore trade options for the 38-year-old before February’s trade deadline.
"I feel like I still got a lot to contribute to a team to be able to win, whether that's here or somewhere else," Tucker told ClutchPoints earlier this month. "I know myself, my worth. I know what I bring. I know what I've brought. I know what I can continue to bring. And with that, I want to be able to go to a good team that I can be able to help that."
Tucker was the starting power forward for Miami’s run to the No. 1 seed in the 2021-22 season. He averaged 7.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists while shooting 41.5% on 3s in his only season with the Heat before opting out and signing a three-year, $33 million deal with the 76ers. Earlier this season, he was traded to the Clippers as part of a deal for James Harden.
Because Tucker has another year left on his contract after this season, accepting a buyout isn’t likely. Finding a trade that brings Tucker to Miami, then, is tough. The Heat don’t have an exact salary to match for Tucker, and it doesn’t make sense to part with better players on bigger contracts, such as Duncan Robinson or Kyle Lowry, for the aging power forward. Remember, the Heat weren’t willing to pay Tucker that much money in free agency, so it’s doubtful they would be comfortable acquiring his contract while also having to part with a key rotation piece,
A reunion between Tucker and the Heat doesn’t seem likely at this point, but Heat fans should pay attention in case he ends up on a conference rival like the Bucks or Celtics.