Tucker played just one season with the Heat, but he seemed to fit in with the team’s culture both on and off the court. It was a surprise when he left, and his absence has truly been felt on the court throughout the 2022-23 campaign.
In the opinion of Tucker himself, it was a bit of a surprise that he didn’t remain in Miami. In fact, he recently admitted that he thought he was going to stay with the Heat for the rest of his NBA career before he ultimately signed elsewhere.
“I thought I was going to retire in Miami,” Tucker said to the Miami Herald earlier this week.
The Heat wanted to bring Tucker back into the fold for the current campaign, but they seemingly were not willing to match what the 76ers offered Tucker. Miami offered the 37-year-old a three-year deal worth $26.5 million.
“I think they wanted the negotiations to be a little slower than it was,” Tucker said ahead of his first game back in Miami on Wednesday night as a member of the 76ers. “Just because of the interest right off the bat. Nobody thought I was going to get three years and then to get multiple offers for a full three years, I was ready to move and figure it out.”
Tucker admitted that he didn’t want to end things with the Heat, but he understandably decided to take more money rather than stay in Miami.
“Honestly, I didn’t want to leave,” Tucker said. “I expressed that I didn’t want to leave. But their situation and them not wanting to be hard-capped, I knew it was going to be a possibility. My family is still there. So I obviously wanted to be there, but it didn’t work out.”
Last season, Tucker put up 7.6 points, 5.5 boards and 2.1 assists per game. His production has dipped this season to just 3.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. Given that decline, it seems as though the Heat arguably made the right decision to not match Philadelphia’s offer.
Still, there is no doubt that the Heat have felt the impact of Tucker’s departure at the power forward spot.
They have tried to bolster their frontcourt by adding Kevin Love in the buyout market, but the jury is still out on whether that addition will really have a major impact on the team.
The Heat really need a win over the Sixers on Wednesday. They beat them on Monday in a 101-99 thriller, but they are still just 4-6 in their last 10 games.
That trend will have to start changing now if the Heat want to feel good about their prospects as the postseason approaches.