In the dying moments of Thursday's NBA trade deadline, the Toronto Raptors acquired guard/forward P.J. Tucker from the Phoenix Suns in exchange for forward Jared Sullinger and two second-round draft picks.The deal gives Toronto back some depth at the wing position – a spot depleted when Terrence Ross was traded to Orlando last week for power forward Serge Ibaka.
Tucker returns to the club that drafted him in the second round of the 2006 NBA draft. He played 17 games for Toronto in 2006-07 before being waived to make room for Luke Jackson.
"I love his toughness, he can defend multiple positions, he can shoot the corner three," Raptors President Masai Ujiri said. "We needed to become a tougher team and I think this helps us."
Tucker spent the next five seasons in Europe before catching on with the Suns in 2012-13. Tucker has averaged 8.0 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.2 steals a game over five seasons in Phoenix. He is the kind of defender who could be asked to defend scoring stars – namely LeBron James in a possible Eastern Conference playoff series with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"I don't think anyone can deal with that guy, but you have to put a guy on him that will try," Ujiri said. "I know [Tucker] will try, DeMarre Carroll, Serge Ibaka, Patrick Patterson will all try. You have to put yourself in the best position."
Sullinger was signed to a one-year contract by the Raptors in the off-season, and coach Dwane Casey said at the time he had the edge on the starting forward position. But he injured his foot in preseason play, struggled to get into game shape and appeared in just 11 games as a Raptor.