The Milwaukee Bucks won the 2020-21 NBA championship, and there is no doubt that they did so due to their defense. Their offensive system was definitely solid, but it is clear that they relied on their defense to be the difference-maker in the playoffs.
A player that contributed to a large part of that squad's defensive identity is P. J. Tucker. He had a lot of standout moments in the 2021 playoffs and was notably the main defender on Kevin Durant during the Bucks' series against the Nets. There is no doubt that P. J. Tucker is one of the best role players in the NBA.
Despite his importance on the defensive end, the Milwaukee Bucks ended up not re-signing the veteran forward, and he signed with the Miami Heat during that free agency period. When speaking to Marc Spears of Andscape, P. J. Tucker explained why he didn't re-sign with the Bucks, claiming that they wanted to duck the luxury tax, and felt like they "could replace" him.
Look at Andre Iguodala. He’s right back at Golden State. He left and was in the shade for a minute, but he is right back. I feel like every player wants that. That home where everybody loves you and you can go back and it’s love. I felt like I was building that [in Milwaukee]. And then to win it, it was like, ‘Oh, yeah, for sure.’ And they just weren’t going over the luxury tax. It just is what it is. They love you and whatever, whatever, but they weren’t going to go over it. They felt like they could replace me, and they did replace me.
Even as a vet being around, it’s like, ‘All right, you f—ing replaced me. Cool.’ You figure it out and that’s just what I had to do. And for me, it wasn’t even about money. It was more about respect because they basically told me to go find an offer and they would match it. After hearing that for me, I’m not coming back even if I had to take less money. To me, that was disrespectful. So, as soon as they said that, I told my agent Andre [Buck], basically, ‘We are moving on, whatever we get out of that, that’s what we’re doing.’
The Milwaukee Bucks still have solid depth on their roster currently, but there's no doubt that they could use P. J. Tucker's defensive prowess this season. Their wing depth isn't great, and P. J. Tucker could definitely have helped with that issue.
With that being said, the Milwaukee Bucks haven't been eliminated yet, and it is possible that they could still make the Finals. If they do end up making the Finals and potentially winning the championship, then the loss of P. J. Tucker will definitely mean less to them. P. J. Tucker and the Miami Heat will look to spoil their fun though, and perhaps we see them match up in the Eastern Conference Finals this year.