Pat Riley pulled another rabbit out of his hat.
Shams Charania reported Monday night that free agent power forward P.J. Tucker has agreed to a two-year, $15 million deal with the Miami Heat. The move fortifies the hole at power forward after Jae Crowder’s departure in free agency a year ago. The Heat tried to plug the hole with Trevor Ariza, but he didn’t offer quite as much as Crowder did. (Ariza, for his part, agreed to a deal to return to the Los Angeles Lakers.)
Tucker’s contract includes a player option in the second year.
The move was a bit surprising, considering Tucker had just won a championship with the Milwaukee Bucks. But it has the benefit of improving Miami while weakening the defending champions.
Back in January and February, I advocated for the Heat to trade for Victor Oladipo and Tucker, who at the time were members of the Houston Rockets. While the Oladipo experiment may end after a grand total of four games, Tucker provides the grit and strength to defend opposing power forwards and accuracy from beyond the arc.
The 2021 NBA champion signed a deal that appears to cover most — though not all — of the mid-level exception. Miami seems to move forward with a starting lineup of Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson, Jimmy Butler, Tucker and Bam Adebayo.