Veteran forward P.J. Tucker has become an integral part of the Houston Rockets as they have developed into a legitimate championship contender over the past several seasons, and he wants his time with the team to continue.
The upcoming 2019-20 NBA season is the last fully guaranteed year that Tucker has on the four-year, $32 million deal that he signed with Houston in 2016 (his deal is only partially guaranteed for the ’20-21 season, and he is set to be an unrestricted free agent in 2021), and he would like to secure his future by signing an extension with the Rockets, in short order.
“It’s now,” Tucker said of getting a new deal done, via an interview with The Athletic. “It’s time for my extension right now, so we’ll see. We’ll see what happens. I’m optimistic, we’ll see.”
Since signing with the Rockets, Tucker, 34, has been a perfect on-court complement to the ball-dominant James Harden, as Tucker is a hard-nosed defender and floor-spacer who doesn’t need the ball to be effective. He averaged 7.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.6 steals, and 1.2 assists in 34.2 minutes of action per game for the Rockets last season. He also started all 82 games for Houston last season, marking the second straight season that he didn’t miss a single regular-season game.
“I always believe in myself, nobody else believed in me,” Tucker said of why he plays as hard, and often, as he does. “Nobody else thought I could be where I’m at right now, nobody counted me in, you know, they count me out. So for me it’s more, it’s bigger than proving people wrong, it was proving myself right. And that’s as big as anything to prove myself right, that I know I was right. So every day when I play, I think about all those times, so that’s why I play as hard as I do.”
Regardless of what happens with his desired extension, Tucker is under contract with the Rockets for the coming season, and he only has one thing on his mind in that regard: winning.
“Next season? I’m looking to win, man. That’s it,” Tucker said. “I mean, when you don’t win it, all you can think about is winning, and that’s all I think about is how much we can win and get better as a team. Feel like we took a small step back last year during the regular season and the postseason, and this year I’m looking to take a couple steps forward.”
Considering his durability, versatility, and fit with the franchise, it seems likely that the Rockets and Tucker will indeed ultimately agree on an extension.
Courtesy: CBS Sports