Are the Chicago Bulls Trying to Land Free Agent PJ Tucker?

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Are the Chicago Bulls Trying to Land Free Agent PJ Tucker?

Chicago Bulls

Just hours before free agency opens up, the Chicago Bulls are reportedly still expressing interest in veteran forward P.J. Tucker.

The news comes after many recent reports that tied Tucker strongly to the Philadelphia 76ers in recent days. For example, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer (h/t NBC Sports) recently stated that multiple sources have told him Tucker to Philly is a “done deal.” He also added that Philly plans to offer him a three-year contract worth $30 million.

According to Schiffer, several other teams appear willing to offer him the full non-tax-payer mid-level exception, including the Bulls. While Tucker’s defensive tenacity and veteran experience are worthy of a $10.5 million annually payday, one has to wonder if the Bulls are hesitant at all to reach that price, especially over multiple guaranteed years for a player who is currently 37 years old.

Anyway, I wrote a lot more about Tucker’s potential fit in our initial post about Tucker-to-Chicago rumors below. Check that out, if you haven’t already.

Original post from June 21, 2022:

With free agency a little over a week away, the Chicago Bulls are about to make some serious roster decisions.

A swift exit from the playoffs to the superstar-led Milwaukee Bucks exposed just how far the Bulls need to go before they can be taken seriously as a title contender. Frontcourt defense proved to be a critical issue, as did the lack of reliable 3-point shooters in the rotation. There is no question Arturas Karnisovas will look to plug both holes this summer, and we might already know one name he’s targeting to do just that.

According to Matt Moore of The Action Network and Locked On NBA Podcast, Chicago is among the teams interested in veteran forward P.J. Tucker: “I will tell you right now, there is interest in Tucker from both the Chicago Bulls and the Brooklyn Nets, among some other teams. There is going to be a number of teams looking for him.”

Moore’s words come less than a day after The Athletic’s Shams Charania officially reported that Tucker would opt out of his $7.4 million player option, putting his future with the Miami Heat in question. Charania also noted several championship teams will target Tucker in free agency.

Tucker makes plenty of sense for a Bulls team that lacked physicality and consistency during the latter half of the 2021-22 season. The 37-year-old has finished a plus-defender every year dating back to his 2013-14 campaign with the Toronto Raptors, and he finished this past season with an elite +2.7 estimated defensive plus-minus, which ranked in the NBA’s 97th percentile, per Dunks & Threes.

A champion with the Milwaukee Bucks two seasons ago, Tucker is also fresh off a 71-game season where he also shot 41.5 percent from behind the arc. To be sure, Tucker has never been considered a high-volume 3-point threat, but he has been more than efficient as a catch-and-shoot option from the corner in the latter stages of his career.

If the Bulls want an experienced winner who can add a level of toughness and defensive versatility, they can certainly do a lot worse than Tucker. But can Tucker do a lot better than the Bulls?

As Charania states, numerous title-contending teams will be after Tucker’s services, and he isn’t getting any younger. Will he view Chicago as a proven-enough commodity for a proper ring chase? And will Chicago be able to offer him the money he wants?

While there is a world where Karnisovas can hand P.J. Tucker more money than what he turned down to stay in Miami, the Bulls are also in need of more help than just Tucker can offer. With that in mind, I could easily see a more established contender viewing Tucker as a stronger difference-maker, thus outbidding the Bulls when free agency tips off.

If there is a broader point to take away from this, though, it’s that the Bulls are even in this conversation at all. As Tucker has shown over the past few years, he’s the kind of player that win-ready teams covet, and the fact Chicago is considered in that category remains a refreshing change of pace.

Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.