ASK IRA: Has P.J. Tucker become quintessentially Heat?

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Q: With each day, my admiration for P.J. Tucker rises. Think of all the players who have missed time in the playoffs and then think about Tucker’s refusal. You can see why Pat Riley loves him. – Stephen.

A: I’m not sure there have been many over the years with the Heat who have been more old school than P.J. Tucker when it comes to pushing through pain and discomfort. There have been times on game-day morning when I have witnessed P.J. barely ambulatory as he heads to the court for shootaround. Hours later, he is as feisty as ever. That again was the case Saturday, including when he exited Saturday night’s postgame podium, as well. Still, this postseason, and these injuries, might also open the eyes of Pat Riley and his staff when it comes to their steadfastness in their preference for veterans. The Heat have been walking quite the fine line when it comes to starting both a 37-year-old power forward, in Tucker, as well as a 36-year-old point guard, in Kyle Lowry. Then again, an argument could be made that the playoffs are a time when veteran savvy is irreplaceable, as some of the uneven play of the Heat neophytes has shown in this series. To their credit, Lowry and Tucker were back Saturday, feisty as always, essentially as usual.

Q: If they give Tyler Herro close to $30 million a year, they are crazy. He’s showing what level player he is, when it counts most. – G.E.

A: First, let’s not gloss over the regular season and Tyler Herro being named NBA Sixth Man of the Year. Tyler was very, very good for extended stretches this season. And that, largely, is what you get paid for in the NBA. Yes, work remains to be done. But that all is part of the process with the rookie scale and rookie-scale extensions. You get paid, and then you are asked to grow. There clearly is a risk-reward element. But if you go the other way, and play it too cautiously, you wind up where the Suns stand, now having competition to merely retain Deandre Ayton. Tyler just turned 22 in January. The elevated salary on an extension would not even kick in until the 2022-23 season. So, like all investments, it comes down to speculation on potential return. Considering what he has achieved to this stage, there clearly is a foundation to build upon. The thought here is an incentive-laden extension that allows Tyler to earn as he elevates.

Q: I give Erik Spoelstra kudos for pulling a very ineffective Tyler Herro and inserting Victor Oladipo, which turned out to be a game changer. – Rolando, Borrego Springs, Calif.

A: Now if only Victor Oladipo’s offense could come around against this level of competition, as well. With both Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro ailing, it could take more than defense to compete against the Celtics, But, yes, Vic’s defense was on point and crucial in surviving Saturday night. At the least, he has shown the ability to thrive as a complementary component. Now, more might be needed.


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#IRA #Tucker #quintessentially #Heat

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