Tucker never considered opting out, hopes to finish his career in Houston
HOUSTON - Forward P.J. Tucker is one of the key reasons the Houston Rockets are able to use their small-ball strategy.
Tucker plays far bigger than 6’5” with a heart to match.
And he never thought for one second about opting out and not playing this season.
“I want to play basketball,” Tucker said in an interview with FOX 26 Sports. “I love playing basketball. I got an 8-year-old son that loves watching me play. He’s so excited right now. He’s super-hyped for me to go play.”
P.J. is referring to his son, King Tucker.
“Just now when I left the house, he was so hyped,” Tucker said. “His dad’s leaving for two or three months, but he’s so happy just because he gets to see me play basketball on TV.”
Tucker has three children.
“I’ve been with them since the COVID hit,” Tucker said. “(King) has been by my side every day and all the rest of my kids. Of course, I’m a dad. I want to see my kids every single day, but it’s one of those situations that’s a special situation, us having to leave. It’s tough, yeah, but at the same time we’re gone a lot during the season. It’s just how it goes right now.”
Tucker and his Rockets are in the midst of uncharted waters.
They’ll be playing the final eight games of the regular season and the playoffs in the NBA’s bubble in Orlando, Fla.
“It’s hard to have an opinion, because we haven’t done it,” Tucker said. “Nobody’s done it. It’s gonna be a first time for everybody. That’s a good thing. I think we’ll just figure it out. Wide World of Sports, Disney, is a place that all of us played against each other back when we were young. So, I think that will be a fun experience, kind of revisit our old AAU days of being down there and playing.”
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Tucker likes the Rockets’ chances to bring home the third NBA championship in franchise history.
“I think anybody can win it, so I say why not us,” Tucker said. “Nobody has any edge over anybody right now. Everybody’s been at home. So, I think whoever puts it together the fastest, whoever jells and gets it going the fastest, will probably be the winner.”
“Since I’ve been here we’ve had the same demeanor, the same swagger. We’ve always felt like we were one of the best teams in the league. We’ve had a chance to win it every single year. It’s hard to truly say that and really mean it and really have a chance. Not too many people get to say that.”
The Rockets will have about three weeks to get ready for the final eight games of the regular season, giving guys like Robert Covington and Jeff Green the time needed on the practice floor to adjust to their small-ball system.
“I don’t think that is a big deal,” Tucker said. “All those guys, Jeff knows, Robert knows, those guys have done small ball and played different positions. That’s the good thing about them and that’s why we got them. They know how to play different positions.
“More than anything, it’s just having our entire team together and being able to work together. That time apart is gonna hurt everybody a little bit I think, but I think we’re one of those teams that could be quick to get back to it.”
Tucker, the heart and soul of the Rockets defense, has one year left on his contract following this season.
He’d like to get an extension that will allow him to finish his career in a Rockets uniform.
“Of course, I love Houston,” Tucker said. “I’ve said it many times. I want to retire as a Houston Rocket. I love it here. The fans, the city, have embraced me since day one. I love being here. I never want to leave. So, fingers crossed, I hope we can strike a deal and get it done.”