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Is P.J. Tucker’s free agency the next contest between Nets and Bucks? Doubtful

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2021 NBA Playoffs - Milwaukee Bucks v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

P.J. Tucker had a good time Thursday at the Bucks’ championship parade through the city of Milwaukee...

In a city known for chugging beer, the 35-year-old showed he had mastered chugging champagne!

Soon, however, Tucker will have a choice to make. He’s at the end of a four-year, Tucker signed a 4 year, $31.9 million with the Rockets, or $8 million a year. Now an unrestricted free agent with a ring and much higher profile. He’s also the only real free agent linked to the Nets in the rumor mill.

As Alex Schiffer writes Thursday...

I’ve heard P.J. Tucker’s name come up a lot. The Nets have been interested in him since before the Harden trade. But after the Bucks’ championship, does he want to pull a Ray Allen and leave one contender for another in the same conference? Tucker is tight with Harden and Durant, bodyguard issues aside, and played with Nets assistant Royal Ivey at Texas. He loved playing for Mike D’Antoni in Houston.

As Schiffer notes, the Bucks are likely to want to bring Tucker back. The question, of course, is at what price? Tucker reportedly wanted $12 million year from Houston before he and Rodions Kurucs were sent to Milwaukee in mid-March for D.J. Augustin, D.J. Wilson a 2023 first rounder and a swap of seconds this year.

In fact, Mike Scotto of Hoopshype thinks he could get more!

I think PJ’s going to have suitors from other teams around the league. I think declining that two-year, $17 million extension offer (From Houston), I think he’s going to end up doing better than that after his playoff run.

Giannis Antetokounmpo gave Tucker his endorsement after the Nets series.

“He keeps making everything tough on KD (Kevin Durant),” said Antetokounmpo. “He’s vocal. He’s a leader. He pushes us to be great. He’s definitely a big piece of this organization and this team. He’s going to keep helping us. We definitely need him moving forward.”

How would the Nets compete with that, if Tucker is even interested in joining up with his old friend and rival Durant? Short of a trade that’s difficult to imagine, the Nets would be limited to the taxpayer MLE, roughly $6 million. (A sign-and-trade would hard cap the Nets, something they skillfully avoided last season.)

Of course, it’s possible, but unlikely, that the Bucks simply wish Tucker well and let him walk so he can seek employment elsewhere. Indeed, Tucker is worth more to the Bucks than he would be to any other team and he might have to take less.

More likely, as Schiffer notes, the Nets will look for Tucker-Lite, another 3-and-D player, maybe David Nwaba, who was playing well for the Nets in December 2018 when he ruptured his Achilles, ending his season and his contract. Nwaba signed with the Rockets a year ago, and was doing well — averaging a career-high 9.4 points — before the injury bug hit again, this time in March when he hurt his wrist on a dunk. Nwaba of course would command a lot less than Tucker. He’s also seven years younger.