PHOENIX — Four years ago the Phoenix Suns gave small forward P.J. Tucker a second chance at an NBA career.
And during the time since, Tucker has worked hard to not only prove himself worthy of such an opportunity, but also help elevate the Suns back to playoff contender status.
Tucker succeeded on the former two seasons ago.
This season, Tucker could be headed elsewhere while the Suns head towards a franchise-high sixth straight postseason absence.
Tucker’s name has popped up on the rumor mill with two weeks to go before the NBA trade deadline.
“It’s the league, man,” he said Thursday, following shootaround. “I got one of those deals right now where it makes sense, especially for a lot of teams looking for a player like me, so it makes sense.”
Tucker is signed through the 2016-17 season, but only $1.5 million of the $5.3 million he is owed is fully guaranteed if he is not waived by June 30, 2016.
The Suns rewarded Tucker with a three-year, $16.5 million contract in 2014, coming off a season in which he started 81 games and averaged career highs in both points (9.4) and rebounds (6.5).
Though Tucker’s scoring is down from the previous two seasons, he is still giving the Suns 6.8 points and 5.7 rebounds a game plus 35.1 percent 3-point shooting all the while being asked to defend the opponent’s best player on most nights.
That along with his durability — Tucker is the lone Suns player to have appeared in all 50 games this season, including 48 starts — makes Tucker, 30, an attractive option on the trade market.
To his credit, however, Tucker is not looking to bolt from the league’s fourth-worst team.
“It would suck; I’m not going to lie,” he said of possibly being traded. “I was here when (the team) was down and we came up and now having a tough year this year, so kind of seeing it full circle and not obtain the goal of making the playoffs since I’ve been here, so that wouldn’t be at the top of my list of things that I like.
“But, it’s part of the business and you got to keep fighting through it, keep playing and being a professional.”
A 2006 second-round pick out of Texas, Tucker played only 83 minutes over 17 games as a rookie with Toronto. He then spent the next five years crisscrossing the globe, playing for teams in Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy and Ukraine before the Suns called in 2012.
As fate would have it, Toronto is one of the teams reportedly interested in acquiring Tucker.
“It is what it is,” he said. “I always get through these times with the same kind of attitude. I’m going to be P.J. no matter what, whether I’m here or wherever. I love being in Phoenix. It’s been my longest stop of my career and hopefully it continues.”