P.J. Tucker signed a three-year deal with the Philadelphia 76ers at the start of free agency last summer, but he would have preferred to remain with the Miami Heat, the team he played for last season.
"Honestly, I didn't want to leave," Tucker said of Miami, via the Miami Herald. "I expressed that I didn't want to leave. But their situation and them not wanting to be hard-capped, I knew it was going to be a possibility. My family is still there. So I obviously wanted to be there, but it didn't work out. ... I thought I was going to retire in Miami."
For Tucker, the decision to sign with the Sixers ultimately came down to one thing: money. He wanted the full mid-level exception, and the Sixers were willing to give it to him, while the Heat had reservations. Ultimately, Tucker signed a fully-guaranteed, three-year, $33 million deal with Philly.
"I wanted the full midlevel," Tucker explained. "I thought I deserved the full midlevel and that was something that I wanted. They knew that coming out of the gate. I expressed that I wanted that from the beginning. I feel like for what we did, for what we had, I feel like I deserved that and it just is what it is.
"I think they wanted the negotiations to be a little slower than it was," he added. "Just because of the interest right off the bat. Nobody thought I was going to get three years and then to get multiple offers for a full three years, I was ready to move and figure it out."
Though he was disappointed with the way things played out, Tucker isn't harboring any sort of a grudge against Miami. Instead, he reflects fondly on his time with the team.
"But I don't fault them at all," Tucker said. "I understand they didn't want to be hard-capped and wanted to be able to make moves later with whatever they thought the team may need. ... It was fun. It's just one of those experiences I'll remember."
Philadelphia's interest in Tucker became evident immediately after the Heat eliminated the Sixers in the Eastern Conference semifinals last spring. In the direct aftermath of the loss, Joel Embiid mentioned Tucker by name when discussing what Philadelphia lacked.
"You look at someone like P.J. Tucker. Great player, but it's not about him knocking down shots. It's about what he does, whether it's on the defensive end or rebounding the ball," Embiid said. "You look at, obviously, defensively, he plays with so much energy, believes that he can get from point A to point B, and he believes that no one can beat him.
"And he's tough. He's just physical, and he's tough. And they have a few of those guys, whether it's Bam and all those guys. And since I've been here, I'd be lying if I said that we've had those types of guys. Nothing against what we have, it's just the truth. We never had P.J. Tucker."
Philadelphia's front office heard Embiid loud and clear, as they went out and threw the proverbial bag at the veteran forward. They might have been a little too eager to sign Tucker, in fact, as the organization was ultimately found guilty of tampering during their pursuit of Tucker and docked a second-round pick as a result.
At the end of the day, you can't blame Tucker for following the money, but you also can't blame fans in Philadelphia if they feel slightly annoyed by the fact that the team's top offseason addition would technically rather be somewhere else.