The Clippers have offered a future second-round pick for Suns forward P.J. Tucker — who is said to have a not-so-secret admirer in Doc Rivers — but sources say Phoenix is holding out for a first-rounder in exchange for the rugged defensive specialist.
Tucker would be the latest attempt by the Clippers to find a small forward to fit between Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. The 31-year-old Tucker would be a fine addition. He can defend multiple positions, and he makes enough 3-pointers to qualify as a 3-and-D player.
Over the luxury-tax line and hard-capped, the Clippers have a narrow path to matching Tucker’s $5.3 million salary. They could deal Paul Pierce and Alan Anderson for Tucker, though I’m not sure Doc Rivers would trade Pierce in the forward’s final season. Another option is dealing Wesley Johnson, who’s having a down year in the first season of a three-year, $17,643,780 contract.
Tucker no longer fits in Phoenix, which is headed back to the lottery. He can help teams ready to win now. The Suns ought to get something for him before his contract expires this summer.
Can they get a first-round pick for him? Plenty of teams need wings, and Tucker’s defensive versatility is an asset. But he’s only a tolerable 3-point shooter, which could become a problem in a playoff series.
The Suns are right to seek a first-rounder now, but by the trade deadline, they might have to settle for a second-rounder.