Tucker spent the 2021-22 NBA season with the Heat, but he opted to sign with the 76ers on a three-year, $33.2 million contract this offseason.
That was a blow to the Heat for a number of reasons. In fact, according to a recent report, retaining Tucker had been the Heat’s No. 1 priority in free agency. That fact was discussed on a recent episode of the “Five on the Floor” podcast.
“They wanted to keep P.J. Tucker,” the podcast reported. “He was their No. 1 priority in free agency — nobody else.”
Given the relatively weak free agency class this offseason, the report on Tucker shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise for Heat fans. However, it does put into perspective just how badly the Heat wanted to keep the 37-year-old.
Last season, the veteran averaged 7.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. He shot 48.4 percent from the field and a blistering 41.5 percent from beyond the arc. While his per-game averages do not necessarily jump off the stat sheet, Tucker is known to impact winning in many ways.
Along with that, Tucker’s competitive spirit and toughness seemed to fit in perfectly with the Heat’s culture. Moreover, he has championship pedigree thanks to the role he played on the 2021 NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks.
Now, the Heat will have to find a player who can replace all of the fantastic attributes Tucker brought to the team last season. Youngster Haywood Highsmith seems to believe that he can be that player, but the jury is still very much out on that claim.