According to a report from ESPN’s Ian Begley, the New York Knicks see Phoenix Suns forward P.J. Tucker as a trade target.
The reason behind the front office’s wanting of Tucker is the Knicks’ atrociously bad defense. Jeff Hornacek ranted to Begley about New York’s woes on that end of the court, and the team feels the 31-year-old could bolster a defense that can’t get much worse.
With a defensive efficiency of 110.6 points allowed per 100 possessions, and 108.5 points allowed a night, the Knicks are one of the five worst teams in the league at stopping the ball. Looking objectively, their roster isn’t constructed for defense. Aside from Kristaps Porzingis, Brandon Jennings (surprising, right?) and Courtney Lee, New York doesn’t have anyone they can look at for stops consistently.
Jennings, because of his energy, is picking up guys 35-feet away from the basket, but the help defense is so weak at times that all that effort goes to waste. Porzingis is the team’s only outstanding defender, and opponents are shooting just 40 percent overall when guarded by him.
Considering Tucker to bolster the defense is, well, odd. Despite having just five seasons under his belt in the NBA, Tucker is 31. He’s beyond his athletic prime, but Hornacek might be able to stretch it out a little bit longer if he keeps Tucker on a pseudo-minutes restriction.
For the Suns, Tucker’s at 27.1 minutes a night and they need him to do far more than the Knicks will. If he were to get a change of scenery, there would be little-to-no offensive expectation, and it works out perfectly since Tucker has never been a scoring threat.
Hornacek could easily get away with keeping his minutes under 25 by inserting him when the defense needs some energy.
However, by no means is he a great defender.
This is a perimeter-oriented league, and the Knicks have been one of the league’s best teams when it comes to defending the three-point line. Through 34 games, New York holds their opponents to 35.4 percent from downtown, a clip that puts them at 12th-best in the association.
When matched-up against Tucker, the offensive player shoots 39.6 percent which is 4.3 percent higher than their average. As expected, though, the percentages favor Tucker the closer to the basket he is, and, overall, he holds opponents to a modest 42.4 percent.
The elephant in the room is New York not having the pieces necessary to execute a deal. Granted, it wouldn’t take much to pry Tucker from Phoenix, but I can’t imagine them wanting to part with any of their starting five, Justin Holiday, Kyle O’Quinn or Lance Thomas, and none of the guys on the end of the bench would get accepted by the Suns.
But, you never know.
Start a conversation with me on Twitter