Toronto Raptors Trade Jared Sullinger For P.J. Tucker
The Toronto Raptors have acquired P.J. Tucker from the Phoenix Suns.
The biggest move for the Toronto Raptors came before the trade deadline when they traded for Serge Ibaka. But the team wasn’t done there. The Raptors have traded Jared Sullinger and two second round picks to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for P.J. Tucker.
The move was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical:
Sources: Toronto is sending Jared Sullinger and two future second-round picks to Phoenix for PJ Tucker.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) February 23, 2017
This move accomplishes a few things for the Raptors. The first is that it gives the team a quality wing defender. With the inconsistent health of DeMarre Carroll, this gives the Raptors insurance should he get hurt, or in foul trouble in a playoff series. Tucker doesn’t provide the same three-point shooting as Carroll, but he’s a physical defender that can help slow down a player like LeBron James.
A career 34.7 percent three-point shooter, Tucker doesn’t give the Raptors a consistent floor spacing. But he’s a good enough shooter that teams will at least need to account for him. This helps fill the void left by the James Johnson departure this summer, only with improved shooting.
The other thing this trade accomplishes is it helps free up room in their big man rotation. With Sullinger present, the third string minutes at center and power forward would likely belong to him. With the team selecting both Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl in the first round of the 2016 draft, it was in their best interest to free up minutes for them so they can continue their development.
While this wasn’t a blockbuster deal by any stretch of the imagination, this is yet another shrewd move by Masai Ujiri. Sullinger was in the final year of his deal. With the presence of so many quality bigs and young prospects, there seemed to be no room for him on the roster. In addition to that, on a team with a deep bench, there likely is little desire to use a second round pick in order to take a flier on a prospect.
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The Raptors have made two low-risk moves that help them compete now, without mortgaging their future. There was no deal available that would clearly elevate the Raptors above James and the Cavaliers. So the team elected to add pieces that will make them competitive, while maintaining their ability to make a future move.
After two quality additions, the Raptors still have one of the deepest rotations in the association. With Kyle Lowry, Cory Joseph, Delon Wright, DeMar DeRozan, and Norman Powell as the guards. DeMarre Carroll and P.J. Tucker as the versatile wings at the small forward position. As well as the aforementioned big man rotation.
The team now has little to no excuse to be as putrid on the defensive end of the floor. The coaching staff has quality defenders and depth at each position. The Raptors are two games back of the Wizards and four games back of the Celtics. With neither of those teams making major moves at the deadline, homecourt advantage through the first two rounds is still up for grabs.