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The Specter Of P.J. Tucker Is Haunting The NBA

HOUSTON, TEXAS - JANUARY 10: P.J. Tucker #17 of the Houston Rockets in action against the Los Angeles Lakers during the second quarter of a game at Toyota Center on January 10, 2021 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

LaMarcus Aldridge has politely asked to no longer be a San Antonio Spur and Gregg Popovich has agreed, making this one of the most passive-aggressive firings/quittings in recent memory. Put another way, we are now in the incredibly annoying “agree to part ways” era of roster deconstruction, which is why P.J. Tucker is so refreshing.

Tucker, the 35-year-old designated pest the Rockets used to such great effect when they were not trying to suck, has not agreed to part ways with the Houston Rockets. He has told the Rockets to piss off, which is if nothing else a more justifiably accurate assessment of his view of the Rockets and what they deserve. After the all-star break to clear his head, Tucker told coach Stephen Silas (who qualifies as much as anyone in the league for “poor bastard” status) he wasn’t into playing the Sacramento Kings, let alone anyone else on the Rockets’ schedule from here on out.

A lot of folks came out of the break a little twitchy as far as that goes. Steve Kerr, who has had one of the sport’s cushiest gigs, at least when Stephen Curry has been healthy, sat first-round draft pick/centerpiece of the post-Curry age James Wiseman for the first three quarters of Golden State’s flatline against the Los Angeles Clippers for blowing off two COVID tests. And Stan Van Gundy tore his Pelicans a saxophone’s worth of new orifices after they Pels lost by 30 at home TO THE MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. The Wolves had won their other seven games by an aggregate of 40 points, so this represented 43 percent of their entire season’s ration of pride, which leaves a body to ask why no Timberwolf has told general manager Gersson Rosas or new head coach Chris Finch to sit’n’spin.

In fact, it makes one wonder even more how close we are to a full tools-down walkout by an entire team just on general principle. How it hasn’t happened in Minnesota yet is a true wonderment, and the Rockets’ parachute-less freefall leads us to their doorstep as well. James Harden had already perfected the resignation-with-middle-finger-and-virus-clusters to get to Brooklyn. The Rockets have used more players than any other team save the Nets, and the Nets have employed more only because Kevin Durant has been hurt and have had more time to windowshop the waiver wire.

In short, while the Wolves and Pistons might be worse on the eye and in the standings, the Rockets are probably closer than any team to having a full-on wildcat we’re-not-feeling-it-any-more strike. Hell, even the Ottawa Senators seem relatively content in their jobs, scoreboard aside, but that’s also kind of a hockey thing. Their biggest player issue is San Jose’s Evander Kane, who is working with the team to possibly void his contract, but that’s to beat his mosh pit of creditors forcing him to play for them.

No, this is a job best undertaken in Houston, where franchise operator Tilman Fertitta has already had a billionaire’s hell year with COVID ravaging his entertainment empire, Harden’s behavior assaulting his skull, and his suddenly terrible team eradicating all traces of the fun of ownership. Surely he must be nearing the point at which he might just walk off the job himself and leave the team to the aquarium. Many scientists feel that cephalopods are among the planet’s smartest creatures, so maybe Stetson The Wonder Squid can meet with Tucker and work out a better relationship than the one he’s got.

Either way, we support whatever can be done to eliminate the mutually-agreed-to-part-ways nonsense which is becoming the norm in press release nomenclature, and if P.J. Tucker can’t do it alone, maybe the Rockets should consider it en masse. What we really want is simple declarative language that says, “We fired him because we don’t want him coming around any more,” as a prelude to a disgruntled player saying, “I fired them because they suck.” This seems like the next stage in player empowerment, and until we can get what we all really want—relegation—the Rockets are the team best positioned to provide it.

We will now sing verse five of “The Internationale,” with emphasis on the ending:

“If they insist, these cannibals on making heroes of us,
They will know soon that our bullets are for our own generals.”

And tickets for all future games are available for sale in the lobby gift shop.