P.J. Tucker is the epitome of rock solid in the context of the typical NBA player. Not only does his frame resemble -- you guessed it -- a rock, but his all-around play serves a litany of roles for whatever the team needs on a given night. You need someone to get into the teeth of James Harden in order to (try) and slow him down? We got Tuck. The defense is negating to rotate to the corner in order to stifle the pick-and-roll? Tuck lives in the corners. Oh, the team is dying for someone to drop 25 on any given night? We got -- alright, let's relax.
But you get the point: in a world filled with wide-eyed young guns and uncertainty, a player of Tucker's caliber is extremely valuable to contributing to a winning mantra. He is a bulldog on defense, willing his way to approach nuisance levels against the opposition's go-to scorer while knifing his way to over a steal per game over his career. For the most part, Tucker will stay within the allotted defensive scheme (not that the Suns have had a killer defense or anything), and fills the cliche role of a guy who will "get on the floor" and "make winning plays" at the peril of his own body.
Although cliche, being that guy means something to a team and undoubtedly has a carryover effect on the rest of roster.
On offense, Tucker is limited in a sense - he is not going to be some twenty-point scorer on a routine basis, but he has shown the propensity to fill it up at opportune times. Despite lacking a killer first step, Tucker has a unique way of leveraging his round stature to wreak havoc amongst behemoths in the paint, and will even throw in a nifty floater or two when permitted.
Tucker was overextended last year as he withstood the swoon and played in all 82 games, but that could pay dividends towards his value going forward. Sometimes being thrusted up a few notches on the offensive hierarchy will develop or refine skills previously untapped for a role player, and you could make the argument that Tucker went through that last season. The shot attempts and minutes played stayed consistent to his normal averages, but he posted a career high 2.2 assists per game and generally looked like he had a better idea of what to do when he would bend the defense by embarking into the lane.
Again, Tucker excels best when he is characterized as a role player, and any extra pleasantries that are the result of last year's gruesome campaign will only help his value for the Suns (or perhaps some other team) heading into this season.
I throw that little "other team" caveat in there because Tucker is entering the final year of his contract, just turned 31 years old, and will only be making a modest $5.3 million for the 2016-17 season - chump change in comparison to other players that he is more valuable than. Would you rather have Jeff Green for 1-year/$15 million or Tucker for the aforementioned price? Exactly.
Teams will likely ask themselves the same question, and contenders should seek out Tucker's services to boost their wing depth, shooting prowess, and heart all in one fell swoop. An obvious partner would be a team like the Clippers, who have been seeking a serviceable three for what seems like a decade. Roc Divers, the alter ego of Doc Rivers, has fleeced the Clippers from having the ability to throw a first round pick at the Suns until 2021, but obtaining a first rounder of any kind (even if heavily protected) for Tucker would be a coup for the front office.
Other teams should come calling as the season takes shape if they are not already interested, as Tucker is the kind of player that will have no trouble finding suitors around the league. He has always seemed destined to play on the Memphis Grizzlies due to his gritty play, and I would not be surprised if some Eastern Conference faux contender convinces themselves that Tucker could be a cheapish solution to the conundrum of guarding LeBron James during the playoffs. (Isn't he a better version of what James Johnson was for the Toronto Raptors?)
As you read deeper into the tea leaves, it becomes more and more apparent that the best course of action is to be rid of Tucker when the right offer presents itself. The Suns are not in a place where having a glue guy presents value -- T.J. Warren should be getting most of Tucker's minutes at this point -- and Tucker's contract and skill set should elicit interest from a handful of suitors.
Ryan McDonough has traditionally worked fast, but I would be hard-pressed to envision a scenario where Tucker is traded before the season is in full swing. Patience will be key, and letting the market boil to a climax will allow the front office to wring out the most assets when duty calls.
One thing is certain no matter where Tucker finds himself playing next season: the man is as solid as they come.