Suns trade P.J. Tucker to Toronto for Sullinger, draft picks
PHOENIX — The Suns resisted any major moves at the NBA trade deadline but did send forward and defensive stopper P.J. Tucker to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for forward Jared Sullinger and a pair of second-round picks.
Guard Brandon Knight remains with the Suns despite widespread speculation he could be headed elsewhere due to his inconsistent while coming off the bench behind starters Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker.
In a second deal, Phoenix acquired forward Mike Scott, the rights to Turkish guard Cenk Akyol and cash considerations from the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for the Suns’ top-55 protected second-round pick in this year’s draft.
Several teams reportedly had interest in the veteran Tucker, who is signed through the end of the season at $5.3 million, and the Suns were said to be hoping to land a first-round pick in exchange, but such an offer never materialized.
Instead, they sent their longest-tenured player to the team that originally drafted him in the second round in 2006.
Tucker, known as a fiery leader in the locker room and a four-time winner of the Dan Majerle Hustle Award, averaged seven points and six rebounds this season while appearing in 57 games, but he had moved to a bench role to make room for T.J. Warren as the starting small forward.
“We thank P.J. for his contributions to our franchise over the past five seasons,” said Suns general manager Ryan McDonough. “He was well respected by his teammates as someone who pushed them every day in practice, laid his heart on the line on the court and was a leader in the locker room. P.J. was also loved by the fans here in Phoenix for his relentless approach on the court and his work in our community. We appreciate all that he did for the Suns organization and wish him the best as he joins the Raptors.”
Tucker played just 17 games for Toronto as a rookie in 2006-07, then spent five seasons in Israel, Ukraine, Greece, Italy and Germany before earning a roster spot with the Suns in 2012. In five seasons in Phoenix, he averaged 8.0 points and 5.9 rebounds in 377 games — 286 as a starter.
“I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a tough day for me,” Tucker said. “Dropped some tears, changed my life — Phoenix has changed my life.”
Sullinger, 24, was a first-round draft pick of the Celtics in 2012 out of Ohio State. A 6-foot-9, 260-pound forward, he has played in just 11 games this season for Toronto, averaging 3.4 points and 2.5 rebounds.
Prior to joining the Raptors, he had three consecutive seasons averaging more than 10 points a game for Boston. His career averages are 10.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.
Sullinger is being paid $5.628 million on a contract that expires this season.
The 6-foot-8 Scott, a second-round pick out of Virginia in 2012, was slowed by a knee injury to start this season and never became a significant part of the Hawks’ rotation. His best season with Atlanta was 2013-14, when he averaged 9.6 points per game, but his scoring has declined ever since. He is averaging 2.5 points and 2.1 rebounds in 18 games for the Hawks this season.
Akyol, a 6-6 guard who was drafted by Atlanta with the 59th pick, currently plays for Acibadem Universitesi Istanbul of the Turkish Basketball First League.
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