When PJ Tucker became an intrinsic part of the Milwaukee Bucks' 2021 championship run, fans expected the veteran to stay in Wisconsin for a few more years. And so it was a surprise that after just one season with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Tucker took his talents to South Beach. In a recent interview, Tucker narrated the “disrespectful” event that swayed him from staying with the Bucks.
Tucker looked to Andre Iguodala’s experience with the Golden State Warriors. After six years in the Bay — a stint that resulted in three titles and an NBA Finals MVP trophy — Iggy went to South Beach for two productive seasons. Now he’s back in Golden State, back with the championship core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. Iguodala doesn’t play as much. But Steve Kerr and the entire organization know how valuable his presence is. Tucker simply wants some love and loyalty from the team he helped win an NBA championship.
“Look at Andre Iguodala. He’s right back at Golden State. He left and was in the shade for a minute, but he is right back. I feel like every player wants that. That home where everybody loves you, and you can go back, and it’s love. I felt like I was building that [in Milwaukee]. And then to win it, it was like, ‘Oh, yeah, for sure.’ And they just weren’t going over the luxury tax. It just is what it is. They love you and whatever, whatever, but they weren’t going to go over it. They felt like they could replace me, and they did replace me,” Tucker said, per andscape.
Not about the cash
It was clear to everyone in the league that Tucker was a key part of that Bucks win. His hustle, basketball IQ, defense, and 3-point shooting all contributed to the Bucks ousting the Phoenix Suns. And so even though Tucker was getting old, the championship made his stock value rise.
But for Tucker, it was not really about the money. The North Carolina native did not like the way the front office treated him in the negotiations. It was as if he merely rode Giannis’ back on the way to his first title.
“Even as a vet being around, it’s like, ‘All right, you f—— replaced me. Cool.’ You figure it out and that’s just what I had to do. And for me, it wasn’t even about money. It was more about respect because they basically told me to go find an offer and they would match it. After hearing that for me, I’m not coming back even if I had to take less money. To me, that was disrespectful. So, as soon as they said that, I told my agent Andre [Buck], basically, ‘We are moving on, whatever we get out of that, that’s what we’re doing,’” Tucker said.’
In his first season with the Heat, Tucker once again formed a key part of their success. They finished first in the East — a remarkable improvement from their sixth-place finish a season earlier. Perhaps the Bucks were dead wrong in their reading that Tucker was going old and gray and would no longer be a productive player. The Heat have a keener eye for talent.