I talk to casual Suns fans all the time. I occasionally (and unfortunately) find myself watching games with casual Suns fans, and what you’ll find them saying are things like; "Who is that guy?" "He sucks." I even remember one commenter on this website saying that he is toxic to our team.
To those non P.J. lovers I say; "I rebuke you."
Most of us are not like that. Most of us love P.J., or Tony Tucker as I like to call him. We see how he is the leading rebounder for a guy 6’6 or under. We see him chase those 50/50 basketballs as if his life depends on it. We see his man on man defense where he doesn’t give his opponent more than an inch of room. We see that he continually improves.
With all that said, I have to tell you, I’m worried.
If we as fans are seeing all of Tucker’s positive attributes, then surely other teams in the NBA are seeing this too. And although at first they may be saying to themselves "Who is that guy?", they probably now know exactly who he is.
The problem with this is that P.J. is a restricted free agent this summer. This is what worries me. Many other teams in the NBA would love a small forward with amazing defensive capabilities, and slight offensive capabilities. I think some teams will even be able to pay him pay big bucks. (Can you imagine him on a team like Memphis or Chicago? I shudder at the thought.)
Now other teams probably won’t pay HUGE money for Tucker, but I bet he will be offered some pretty solid money. You might at this point say to yourself, well then the Suns will just match it. However, looking at our future, and looking at who we want to keep, I am not so sure. In the eyes of the Suns, P.J. Tucker is probably more expendable than Bledsoe, and I agree. So if one team figures out that magic number that is just a little bit more than the Suns want to pay Tucker, then we might be saying goodbye to our hardworking friend.
A lot of fans may not care all that much. They may be more worried about losing Bledsoe, and I understand that, part of me is very worried about that too. Even so, I can’t stop worrying about losing the King of Hustle (trademarked). I’ll miss seeing him dominate players, like he did against Steph Curry in that first game we played against Golden State this season. I’ll miss his energy, his hustle, his rebounding, and I’ll miss him willing us towards wins at times, with his motivational hard work and encouragement to his teammates.
I will also miss the occasional swear I could faintly hear due to the near court mics.
Friends we need to be worried about losing P.J. Tucker. Let’s hope the NBA forgets about him with all the other big name free agents out there. We need Tucker. I need P.J. for entertainment value alone. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shouted TUMMY TUCKING at the T.V. after he nabs a monster rebound. (Note: I don’t know why I yell this, but try it sometime while watching, and there’s a satisfaction in cheering this phrase that I can’t explain.)
The team needs P.J. Tucker for his unifying team first mentality.
Have I convinced you that losing P.J. would be devastating? I hope so, because it would be.
What would we do without him? Comment below on how we’d fill the gap he may potentially leave.