Suns trade P.J. Tucker to the Raptors for 2nd-round picks, Jared Sullinger

Feb 23, 2017, 1:05 PM | Updated: 5:06 pm
Phoenix Suns forward P.J. Tucker reacts to a foul call against him during the second half of the te...

Phoenix Suns forward P.J. Tucker reacts to a foul call against him during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets, Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

(AP Photo/Matt York)
LISTEN: PJ Tucker, Former Sun

Phoenix Suns small forward P.J. Tucker, the longest-tenured player on the roster, is leaving the Valley. Tucker has been traded to the Toronto Raptors, The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported.

In exchange, Phoenix will receive Toronto’s unprotected second-round picks for 2017 and 2018, according to Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s John Gambadoro, and the expiring $5.6 million contract of Jared Sullinger, who has battled injuries this year, is averaging 3.4 points and 2.5 rebounds in just 11 games this season.

“I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a tough day for me,” Tucker said. “Dropped some tears, changed my life — Phoenix has changed my life.”

The Suns were attempting to hold out for a first-round pick in exchange for Tucker, but those were hard to come by in a deep draft and with teams interested in Tucker not having a first-rounder to give.

The Washington Wizards, Los Angeles Clippers, Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics and Utah Jazz all also reportedly had interest in the Suns veteran.

Tucker, 31, is averaging seven points and six rebounds per game in a newfound bench role for the Suns this season.

His defensive prowess, rebounding and intangibles — not to mention his expiring contract — made him a good fit for teams looking to win.

“I couldn’t ask for a better situation to go to,” he said Thursday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Burns and Gambo show. “I wanted to be a part of bringing a championship back to Phoenix but this opportunity coming about in a contract year is a good situation for me.”

Asked if he could consider re-signing in Phoenix this summer, Tucker left the option open.

“There’s no question. There’s a chance. I could do a lot of things. Like I said, it’s a place me and my family made our home,” he said.

Tucker signed with the Suns in 2012 after spending multiple seasons overseas. He was originally drafted by the Toronto Raptors in the second round of the 2006 NBA Draft but didn’t stay in the league past his rookie season.

Seeking a return to the NBA in 2012-13, Tucker was brought to camp by then-general manager and fellow Texas product Lance Blanks and impressed for the Suns’ summer league team. He was signed and then went on to start in 45 games. In the next three seasons, Tucker would start in 224 of his 241 games.

This season, Tucker has taken a backseat to starting small forward T.J. Warren. He has started 17 of his 57 games this year, filling in for Warren when his teammate missed time with a minor head injury.

Since joining the team, Tucker has missed only eight games in four-plus seasons while providing constant energy to the Suns that made him a fan favorite.

“He was well respected by his teammates as someone who pushed them every day in practice, laid his heart on the line on the court and was a leader in the locker room,” Suns general manager Ryan McDonough said. “P.J. was also loved by the fans here in Phoenix for his relentless approach on the court and his work in our community. We appreciate all that he did for the Suns organization and wish him the best as he joins the Raptors.”

In 2014, Tucker was arrested in Scottsdale for an extreme DUI and was suspended for the first three games of the 2014-15 season. Later in that same season, he was suspended for violating team rules.

He has won the Dan Majerle Hustle Award five straight years.

Tucker is one of the driving forces behind the Suns leading the league in technical fouls this season. He has eight this season and 37 in his career.

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