The Phoenix Suns have an odd mix of veteran and youngster talent. Six members of their roster have five or more seasons of NBA experience, nine have less than five, with five players as rookies or second-year players. Finding minutes for balancing the veteran players and getting the youngsters time can be tough. On top of that, with so many young players, defense is often the element that suffers.
That problem is likely to be exacerbated as via the Arizona Republic, the team's best wing defender in P.J. Tucker will miss 6-8 weeks after having back surgery.
Suns forward P.J. Tucker will miss training camp, preseason and likely the early parts of the regular season after undergoing a low back microsectomy procedure Thursday.
Valley spine specialist Dr. Dennis Crandall performed the surgery, which typically addresses a herniated lumbar disk and relieves nerve pressure. The team's announcement did not give specifics beyond stating Tucker would be out six to eight weeks. That puts a return to basketball activity either immediately after the Suns' Oct. 26 regular-season opener or closer to Nov. 10 after eight Suns games.
Tucker's injury also makes it even more difficult to trade him. The veteran wing is in the last year of his contract, with just over $5 million remaining. The team added Jared Dudley in free agency, and he can likely fill Tucker's small forward minutes, and any time Tucker spends at guard is covered by the glut of good backcourt players the Suns are trying to make time for.
With expiring contracts having so little value, and after back surgery at age 31, finding a taker for Tucker may be difficult. But Tucker is still a tough-nosed defender who is a career 35 percent from deep (though he struggled last season). There's still value there, depending on how soon he can get back on the floor for Phoenix, who continues to be somewhere between a rebuild and a team trying to compete in a stacked Western Conference.