P.J. Tucker: 'I Want to Retire as a Houston Rocket'

Michael Shapiro

James Harden may be the Rockets' best player, but forward P.J. Tucker has established himself as Houston's heart and soul in recent seasons. 

Tucker has played in all 288 of Houston's regular season games since 2017-18, serving as the backbone of the Rockets' defense at 35-years-old. 2019-20 has brought an additional challenge. Tucker is now Houston's starting center after Clint Capela was traded on Feb. 4, leaving the 6'5" forward to guard the likes of Anthony Davis, Nikola Jokic and Rudy Gobert. Tucker takes plenty of punishment, but he remains a nightly force in Houston's lineup. 

Tucker's toughness and defensive talent has endeared him to fans across Houston. And it appears as though the affection is mutual. 

"I’ve said it many times. I want to retire as a Houston Rocket," Tucker told Fox 26 Houston's Mark Berman. "I love it here. The fans, the city, have embraced me since day one."

Tucker's 2020-21 option became fully guaranteed on Feb. 9, ensuring one more season in Houston. But a contract extension between Tucker and the organization has yet to be reached. Tucker hopes a new contract comes before next season. 

"I love being here. I never want to leave," Tucker said. "So, fingers crossed, I hope we can strike a deal and get it done.”

Tucker joined the Rockets for their flight to Orlando on Thursday, with Houston's first practice slated for Saturday. The Rockets will play a trio of scrimmages in the coming weeks before resuming the regular season on July 31 against Dallas.

Tip-off against Luka Doncic and the Mavericks is slated for 8 p.m. CT.