Clippers Send P.J. Tucker, Bones Hyland Home Amid Playing Time Frustrations

The surging Clippers made a surprising move recently, sending P.J. Tucker and Bones Hyland home from their current road trip. The plan is for them to return after the All-Star break. The news came at an interesting time for a Clippers team that is already dealing with several injuries. Kawhi Leonard sat out Wednesday’s game versus the Warriors with a strained left adductor.

Tucker’s frustration over a lack of playing time has been well-documented. There was some expectation around the league that the veteran forward would be dealt to another team at the deadline, but no deal materialized. Despite this, both parties are now open to Tucker’s potentially rejoining the rotation at some point.

Tucker, acquired in the trade that brought James Harden to LA, initially featured prominently in the rotation. However, the Clippers struggled mightily following the trade. Tucker saw his minutes diminish over time. Tucker averaged 16 MPG over his first 10 appearances with the Clippers. He saw just six minutes of action in his last appearance which occurred back on November 27.

Adding salt to the wound, the NBA fined Tucker $75,000 on Thursday for publicly voicing a trade demand. The league has been trying to discourage players from taking their requests to the public forum and felt Tucker’s comments had crossed over the line.

Meanwhile, Hyland’s role has diminished following the acquisition of Harden, with the team prioritizing size and versatility in their lineup. Hyland was traded from the eventual champion Nuggets last season as he wasn’t deemed a fit in their rotation. The VCU product is a skilled offensive player but hasn’t contributed in enough ways to stick in Tyronn Lue’s rotation. He’s appeared in 11 games since Nov. 20 and has been shooting a woeful 22.5 percent from the field since then.

Coach Lue emphasized the importance of giving both players time to reset and prepare mentally for the remainder of the season. With the team performing well, there’s limited room for roster adjustments, making it essential for sidelined players like Tucker and Hyland to stay prepared for potential opportunities.

The Clippers have been one of the hottest teams in basketball over the last few months. It’s difficult to poke any holes in the rotation they’ve been trotting out during their current 33-10 stretch. That being said, a veteran like Tucker could certainly help them down the line. His defense has been a boon for each team he’s played for, and he’s willing to do the dirty work. That sort of skill set is invaluable next to stars such as Harden, Leonard, and Paul George. We’ll be interested to see how Lue handles Tucker and Hyland following the All-Star break.