The Philadelphia 76ers appeared to have found the right piece to improve their bid for the 2023 NBA championship, but things have changed after an unexpected turn of events. The Sixers again failed to make a deep playoff run, losing to the Miami Heat in the second round of the playoffs.
Now, with the Ben Simmons already finished for them, the Sixers will try to build a competitive team that can aspire to win it all next season. Recent reports suggested that PJ Tucker was a target for the team after the player declined to return to the Miami Heat.
Even though Joel Embiid was all-in on this potential signing, the Sixers might be looking for alternatives, as they can't afford to land Tucker. According to Tom Moore of the Bucks County Courier Times, Tucker is highly unlikely to join the Sixers right now, as they won't make the trade that would have given the chance to acquire PJ's services.
The Sixers are interested in the 37-year-old Tucker, according to Keith Pompey of the Inquirer. It wouldn't be easy, but Philadelphia could conceivably offer Tucker $32 million over three years (starting at $10.3 million with annual 4.5 percent raises) if it gets below the luxury-tax threshold, which would mean trading Matisse Thybulle and his $4.4 million salary for a future first- or second-round pick and Furkan Korkmaz's $5 million, which could be paired with a second-rounder for a highly protected second-round pick to a team under the cap. That would allow the Sixers to move under the $147 million tax line, sign Tucker and remain below the $155.7 million luxury tax apron that's required if they use the non-taxpayer mid-level exception.
While the Heat can only go as high as $26 million over three years for Tucker, who shot .415 on 3-pointers last season, an NBA source said the Sixers "aren't trading to trim salary to use on non-taxpayer MLE," so Tucker almost surely won't become a 76er.
This idea sounded pretty interesting for the Sixers, who could have added a piece that helped the Milwaukee Bucks win the 2021 NBA title and the Miami Heat secure the No. 1 seed in the East and a spot in the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals. They have more targets this offseason, but adding Tucker would have been incredible for them.
PJ's market is still big, and perhaps he could return to Milwaukee this summer. It remains to be seen what's next for him, but it's pretty sure he won't miss opportunities this year.