The Rockets are looking for defensive depth and they got some Saturday night, signing former University of Texas Longhorn PJ Tucker.
Tucker signed a four-year deal worth $32 million, according to Yahoo! Sports. The years and dollar amount are nearly identical to the 2014 contract the Rockets signed with Trevor Ariza, but the Rockets will be using their mid-level exception this time around.
Tucker is a 6-foot-5, 225 pound guard-forward who brings toughness and attitude. Built like a Mario Elie, Tucker is known for his defense with the Phoenix Suns and most recently the Toronto Raptors.
With the loss of Patrick Beverley, the Rockets certainly were in need of a bulldog and the 32-year old Tucker is definitely that.
“I love his emotion, I love his grit, love his fire, I love his passion, everything about him,” said his now-former coach Dwane Casey last season. “There’s nothing about P.J. Tucker that I don’t like.”
Tucker is roughly an average three-point shooter, hitting over 35.1% from long range for his career, but he did hit 24-60 (40%) in his 24 games with the Raptors last season. He will certainly get open looks with the Rockets.
But it’s defense that Tucker will really bring.
“For me, being able to take someone out of their game and be able to stop a main player on another team is bigger than scoring any amount of points or anything else,” said Tucker last season. “It’s part of the game that’s not glorified and people don’t always want to do but it wins games.”
If you look at the West, teams are trying to roster at least two strong wing defenders to play the Warriors. The Spurs have Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. The Thunder now have Paul George and likely bring back Andre Roberson. The Wolves will roll out Jimmy Butler and Andrew Wiggins. The Rockets hope Ariza and Tucker can be their fire extinguishers.
Here is a highlight video from a couple of seasons ago, showing the kind of defense Tucker plays.