According to Shams Charania, Miami Heat forward P.J. Tucker will decline his $7.4 million player option for the upcoming season and sign as an unrestricted free agent. The NBA’s greatest defence was led by Tucker, 37, who also shot 41.5 percent from outside the arc during his standout Miami season. He is expected to be highly sought after by teams competing for championships. This is the right move on Tucker’s behalf from a purely financial one. He would have received a raise of just $350,000 for the upcoming season had he exercised his player option. He is qualified for a raise of up to 20% on his $7 million salary from the previous season, though, as a non-Bird free agent. That implies
The Heat currently have around $23 million in space beneath the tax line and close to $30 million below the hard cap that signing Tucker for the non-taxpayer mid-level exception would generate, so they could theoretically pay him that much. Doing so would deprive them of the ability to use the mid-level exception on another external player, though, and by creating a hard cap, they’d make it more difficult to fill out their roster and re-sign Victor Oladipo. Tucker’s skill set is so unique that if Miami needs to use the mid-level exception to keep him, it probably should. Competition for his services is going to be steep after the season he just had. If the Heat don’t want to pay Tucker, someone else surely will.
Of course, he’s almost certain to get extra years as well. A number of contending teams will likely offer Tucker their non-taxpayer mid-level exception over multiple seasons as one of the NBA’s premier small-ball centers and a sturdy power forward in any lineup construction. The non-taxpayer mid-level exception is projected to pay around $10.3 million in the first season of a new deal this offseason.
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