The situation in Houston this season might have seemed like it got out of hand rather quickly, but the reality is that it’s been a steady deterioration for the Rockets on multiple fronts. So when the team finally came to terms on a deal to send the disgruntled James Harden to Brooklyn, it was the culmination of a number of factors.
The Rockets’ underwhelming offseason moves, combined with a horrid start, set the stage for Harden reaching his breaking point and demanding a trade, which had widespread implications for the rest of the organization, namely PJ Tucker, whose tenure with the team was in many ways tied up in all the machinations.
At 35, Tucker would clearly much prefer to be in a situation where he can help a contender rather than the painful rebuilding stages likely ahead in Houston, and thanks to his loyalty and the respect he’s garnered during his time there, the organization did their best to accommodate him, only not exactly in the way he had imagined.
What’s less known is this: Tucker, sources say, had come away from that meeting believing he would be dealt with Harden wherever the former MVP ended up, with Brooklyn and Philadelphia seen as the most likely landing spots. It would be a welcomed change after a failed attempt to negotiate a contract extension left him feeling undervalued. Little did he know more than two frustrating months would go by before his once-celebrated Rockets tenure would finally come to an end.
The Athletic had reported previously that nearly 75 percent of the league had been inquiring about the super-versatile Tucker, which prompted the Rockets to try and maximize their return on a trade via a standalone deal. While Tucker would’ve probably preferred to land in Brooklyn with Harden, where the Nets seem poised to make a serious run in the East, he still ended up with a very good team in Milwaukee that can benefit from his prowess as a defender and three-point threat.
And as a bonus for us, we might get to see Tucker matched up against his old teammate Harden in a playoff series, depending on how the standing pan out.