NBA Trade Grades: Toronto Raptors Add P.J. Tucker From Phoenix Suns

NBA Trade Grades

Jan 22, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Phoenix Suns forward P.J. Tucker (17) during their game against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. The Suns beat the Raptors 115-103. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

In another move to bolster the roster for a playoff run, the Toronto Raptors added P.J. Tucker from the Phoenix Suns. Here are NBA Trade Grades for the deal.

After making a power move to acquire Serge Ibaka last week, the Toronto Raptors weren’t done posturing for another deep playoff run as the 2017 NBA Trade Deadline approached.

As first reported by The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Raptors were able to finally add defensive swingman P.J. Tucker to their ranks in a deal with the Phoenix Suns.

The Suns, who had been hoping to hold out for a first round pick, were forced to settle for two second-rounders — one in 2017 and one in 2018 — for their versatile wing. Jared Sullinger will head to Phoenix to balance salaries for the deal.

Raptors get SF – P.J. Tucker

Suns get PF – Jared Sullinger
2017 2nd round pick
2018 2nd round pick

With the Raptors re-stating their intentions of challenging the Cleveland Cavaliers for Eastern supremacy and the Suns taking what they could get for an expiring contract, how did each side fare in the deal?

To make sense of it all, here are NBA Trade Grades for both sides.

NBA Trade Grades

Jan 24, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns forward P.J. Tucker reacts following the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Timberwolves defeated the Suns 112-111. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Phoenix Suns

With the worst record in the Western Conference, the Phoenix Suns were in position to trade their veterans for young talent or future draft compensation to bolster a developing youth movement.

Only one veteran was traded away in the end, and it wasn’t for the most attractive return, but at least general manager Ryan McDonough didn’t come up completely empty-handed. For a team whose pick is currently slated as the second overall selection, dealing Tucker also ensures the 2016-17 tank job continues.

The Suns had remained optimistic that Tucker might command a first-rounder on the open market. After all, McDonough had managed to snake a first-rounder out of the Washington Wizards just last year for Markieff Morris, whose trade value was in the toilet at the time.

Unfortunately it didn’t pan out the same way this time for Phoenix, who will have to settle on an extra second-rounder in 2017 and 2018. However, those picks could be packaged elsewhere in the future, and the 2017 NBA Draft class is fairly deep.

P.J. Tucker was the hardest worker on this team, giving his all on the defensive end and on the boards. He always gave 150 percent to a losing team, he was well liked in the locker room and his defensive versatility will definitely be missed.

However, the Suns’ bottom-five defense will now be even worse with Tucker on the way out, helping Phoenix hold on in the tank race for a top-three pick

With Tucker’s salary coming off the books this summer, re-signing a 31-year-old veteran who doesn’t move the needle would’ve been a mistake. The Suns got what they could before losing him for nothing this summer, so the trade gets a passing grade.

As for Sullinger, he’ll probably remain with the team until he becomes a free agent this summer. With Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender already in the frontcourt, this temporary addition will add depth to the 4-spot without helping the Suns win games or jeopardizing their long-term cap situation.

Grade: B-

NBA Trade Grades

Jan 24, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns forward P.J. Tucker reacts in the second half against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Timberwolves defeated the Suns 112-111. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Raptors

It’s safe to say that signing Jared Sullinger to a one-year deal last summer didn’t exactly pan out for the Raptors. Sully missed most of the season due to injury, and averaged a grand total of 3.4 points and 2.5 rebounds in 10.7 minutes per game over his 11 appearances with the team.

Shipping him off as cap filler was not surprising, especially after landing Serge Ibaka, but being able to scoop up a defensive ace like P.J. Tucker makes this deal even better.

True enough, Tucker’s 7.0 points per game don’t exactly leap off the page, but the Raptors are adding him to bolster their 18th-ranked defense. It’s there that his 6.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game will make a difference.

Toronto doesn’t need him to score much with Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Jonas Valanciunas and Serge Ibaka likely to command shots. But if he can come in off the bench, guard multiple positions with his trademark effort and knock down a couple open threes to replace Terrence Ross, Toronto could be very dangerous.

Tucker is only shooting 33.8 percent from three-point range this season, but don’t forget, the last time he played for a winning team in 2013-14, he shot 38.7 percent from deep as a regular corner three threat.

Having a body like Tucker to throw at someone like LeBron James behind DeMarre Carroll definitely won’t hurt, and it’s frightening to think about how much effort he’ll give on a winning team after slaving away for so many losing Suns teams.

The fact that the Raptors were able to hold out and avoid sending Phoenix another first round pick after giving one up in the Ibaka deal is another victory. Second round picks are more valuable than people think, but with the Cavs looking vulnerable and Toronto going all in on Ibaka, it made sense to really go all in on challenging Cleveland.

P.J. Tucker might not be a playoff hero, and he could very well be a three-month rental since his free agency aligns with Kyle Lowry’s and Serge Ibaka’s, but he’ll bolster the Raptors bench and provide his trademark defense against any playoff opponent.

Grade: A

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