NBA fines P.J. Tucker for publicly demanding trade from Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers sent P.J. Tucker home before the All-Star break.

P.J. Tucker, Los Angeles Clippers=
P.J. Tucker, Los Angeles Clippers= / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages
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The Los Angeles Clippers enter the All-Star break 36-17, which places third in the West. Just 2.0 games behind first-place Minnesota, the Clippers' season to date undoubtedly qualifies as a success. Kawhi Leonard is in the MVP conversation, Paul George is an All-Star, and James Harden has settled into his new role seamlessly. Those who doubted the viability of three Hall of Fame talents in the starting lineup — with a fourth coming off the bench — should probably rethink their stance.

And yet, it has not been all positive vibes in Los Angeles. While the important pieces have gelled quite nicely, those on the periphery are less enthused. The Clippers sent P.J. Tucker and Bones Hyland home during the team's recent road trip. Both are expected back after the All-Star break, but it lays bare the frustrations mounting in the L.A. locker room.

Tucker arrived in Los Angeles as part of the Harden trade package. He was initially part of the rotation, but Ty Lue quickly removed the 38-year-old from a meaningful role. Tucker has appeared in just 12 games for the Clippers, averaging 1.2 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 0.7 assists in 14.4 minutes.

Clearly, Tucker expected more in the second season of a three-year, $33 million contract he initially signed with the Sixers. Discussions about a potential buyout have "gained no traction," per The Athletic, since Tucker has an $11.6 million player option for next season. The Clippers aren't going to let him off the hook unless he waives his option, so no dice.

The two sides are expected to move forward amicably, but Tucker's open frustration — which he vented on social media a week ago — is going to cost him. Tucker wrote, "all this s*** is a f***ing joke," on Instagram after the trade deadline passed. And, worst of all, he told ESPN before the deadline that he was "actively trying to get traded."

That won't fly with the league office. Tucker has been fined $75,000 for a public trade request, per ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk.

P.J. Tucker fined for public trade request to Clippers

It's difficult to fully sympathize with Tucker, who could have received a buyout with the simple choice to waive his option for next season. He wants the money, which is his prerogative, but he won't get that $11.6 million and guaranteed playing time. That seems like a fair tradeoff to me, honestly.

Tucker has not played since Nov. 27, and of course, there is some sympathy for Tucker the player. Tucker has been contributing to winners for a decade. He's one of the hardest workers in the NBA — a grit n' grind defender who never lets his foot off the gas pedal.

Unfortunately, he's just not playing at the necessary level on offense. Tucker's corner 3-point shooting has evaporated and he's a complete non-entity anywhere else on the floor. He can't dribble or handle pressure. Defenses ignore him above the break. That's just not sustainable for a contending team.

Tucker has earned his flowers over the years, but his days as an impact starter (or even bench piece) in the NBA are over. The Clippers will need to keep him engaged the rest of the way, just to keep toxicity out of the locker room, but Tucker isn't part of the rotation for a reason. It's that simple.

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