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P.J. Tucker is not happy he did not get moved by Clippers

PJ Tucker Clippers

(Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

PJ Tucker Clippers
(Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

P.J. Tucker is not happy he did not get moved by Clippers

The 2024 NBA Trade Deadline has come and gone, with plenty of teams around the league shifting their rosters–for better or worse–as we approach the latter half of the 2023-24 season.

The Los Angeles Clippers were one of the few contenders who did not make many moves after acquiring guard James Harden from the Philadelphia 76ers in November. The Clippers are currently one game back of the Minnesota Timberwolves for first place in the Western Conference.

One player they got in the Harden deal is veteran forward P.J. Tucker, who’s openly expressed his frustration due to his lack of playing time. Tucker was not dealt ahead of the deadline and will not be bought out by the Clippers.

Lo and behold, Tucker wasn’t happy, posting this on his Instagram story shortly after the deadline expired:

Tucker is on the books for $11.0 million this season with a $11.5 million player option for 2024-25, the final year of his contract, according to Spotrac. If Tucker were to have been bought out, the Clippers would’ve had to pay most–if not all–of his remaining salary over the next year-and-a-half.

If any team would be able to afford it, it’s Steve Ballmer’s Clippers. Though it’s perfectly reasonable for a team, whose luxury tax bill currently exceeds $113 million, would not want that on their cap sheet if he’s not on the roster–especially since they project to be a second apron team next year. It’s also reasonable that Tucker, who will turn 39-years-old in May, would not waive his player option at the tail-end of his career.

Since getting traded, he has played in just 12 games, but has not played since Nov. 27 against the Denver Nuggets, where he played just six minutes. He’s racked up 34 straight DNPs. Barring injury or something unforeseen, it does not appear that he will be hitting the hardwood any time soon for the Clippers.

It will be interesting to see if Tucker–assuming he exercises his option–gets moved in the offseason, when the second apron becomes far more punitive. At minimum, the veteran wing is an excellent locker room presence who provides a commanding, respected voice … but would a contender still take a gamble on Tucker with that salary? That remains to be seen.

(Side note: Thank god that the equipment manager didn’t have to remove Tucker’s 250 sneakers from the locker room. That sounds like a miserable experience.)

***

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