P.J. Tucker on not re-signing with the Bucks: �I was pretty surprised.”

MIAMI, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 15: P.J. Tucker #17 of the Miami Heat looks on against the Boston Celtics during the first quarter of a preseason game at FTX Arena on October 15, 2021 in Miami, Florida. 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 Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The Milwaukee Bucks ended a 50-year drought after winning the NBA title last season. Given their success, most assumed that the team would keep the core intact. Though they tried, that didn’t turn out to be the case. P.J. Tucker, who played a key defensive role for the Bucks, didn’t return to the team. When asked about it, he shared what he had felt at the time.

“I was pretty surprised. You win a championship and you�re part of winning something special like that, you would expect that. A chance of it not happening? There�s a chance. It didn�t happen. Does it happen a lot? I don�t think so, not in that situation, not in those situations. You watch role guys in series in the past, usually those guys go back. So I�ll take my situation as just that, a particular situation. I move on from it and keep it going.”

P.J. Tucker

Many fans also shook their heads when the versatile veteran forward left the team. As the Bucks held Tucker’s Bird Rights, they could have gone beyond the cap ceiling to re-sign him. Yet, they chose otherwise. Instead, Tucker headed south, signing with Milwaukee’s conference rival Miami Heat on a two-year deal. He has said to look forward to taking on his former team.

Milwaukee’s championship defense

Even with losing P.J. Tucker in free agency, the Bucks sit atop the Eastern conference as a favorite to win the 2022 NBA championship. Led by a top MVP candidate in Giannis Antetokounmpo, they look to etch their names alongside some of the greatest teams in league history by repeating. However, it won’t come without a fair share of challenges along the way.

This year’s Eastern Conference may present its most robust iteration in recent memory. Teams like the Heat, Celtics, Knicks, Wizards, and Bulls have revamped their rosters with hopes of advancing through the postseason this go-around. In addition, the Hawks, Nets, and 76ers come in aiming to step further toward the finals as well. While the Bucks still possess the talent to do it all again, they’ll have a considerable onset of contenders standing in their way.

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