President of basketball operations Daryl Morey's desire for a reunion with P.J. Tucker, which was much discussed in the weeks leading up to free agency, has reportedly come to fruition. The Philadelphia 76ers are finalizing a three-year, $33.2 million contract with the veteran forward, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 30, 2022
The Sixers will be using the full non-taxpayer's mid-level exception, afforded to them by James Harden electing to opt out of his $47.4 million player option to take less money on a potential contract extension. This will result in the tax apron threshold, estimated at roughly $157 million, acting as a hard cap for the Sixers moving forward for the 2022-23 season.
Tucker, who is 37 years old heading into the 2022-23 season, will be signed through his age 39 season. There was some reporting from Keith Pompey of The Inquirer about the final year of the contract not being fully guaranteed. However, Charania reports the contract is fully guaranteed at $33.2 million.
Tucker is coming off a solid season with the Miami Heat in which he averaged 7.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists while shooting 48.4% from the field and 41.5% from 3-point range. He should be able to come in and immediately provide a veteran presence in addition to playing good defense and knocking down a couple threes per game. The Sixers lacked three-and-D players last season, and signing Tucker will help alleviate that weakness.
The area where he arguably will help the Sixers the most is in bringing the toughness and grit that the team was lacking last season. Tucker is a veteran who is not afraid to hold other players in the locker room accountable. The Sixers have not had a player with that hard-nosed attitude on the roster since Jimmy Butler in the latter half of the 2018-19 season.
Tucker, despite being just 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, also has the ability to step in and play some center minutes in small-ball lineups when superstar Joel Embiid is off the floor. He is a crafty player who knows where to position himself on the floor.
Embiid gave a strong vote of approval for Tucker back in his post-game press conference after the Game 6 loss to the Miami Heat:
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. 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.
Signing Tucker will definitely satisfy Embiid in addition to filling a big amount of the holes on the Sixers' roster. The 37-year-old also has some history with both Harden and Morey from their time together with the Houston Rockets, and the trio is now reunited in Philadelphia.
Only time will tell if this move helps propel the Sixers closer to winning a championship. Whatever the case, signing Tucker is a solid start to free agency for the Sixers.