Bucks Lead

The Jabari Parker Conundrum

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Its the dilemma that no Bucks fan wants to think about.

A few short months from now, Milwaukee’s front office is going to have to make a brutally tough decision: Do you resign one of the most promising young talents in the league at the expense of crippling your salary cap, or do you let Jabari Parker walk and target a center in free agency?

On the surface, this appears to be a pretty obvious decision. Of course you want to resign the former 2nd overall pick and keep the young core of Giannis and Jabari together. But for an underachieving Bucks team with salary cap issues sitting at the bottom of the playoff seeding in the East, no decision is an easy one. Despite the recent swirling of rumors, it appears that Jabari would like to stay with Milwaukee in the coming years–but is he an asset or a possible burden? Without emotion attached, let’s dive in to the Pros and Cons of signing the 23 year old to a deal this offseason.

Spark Sports

Pros:

Age/ Trade Value:

Jabari Parker turned just 23 last week. He is yet to play an entire season at full health, but he’s showing more promise than ever. Much of the Buck’s core is well below 30, and keeping this youthful group together could prove decisive if the Buck’s want to reach their true potential. Giannis might be the face of the franchise, but hiding in that freaky shadow is Jabari’s perennial all-star potential.

If the Bucks let Parker walk in Free Agency, they would be squandering an incredibly valuable trade asset, as his young age and coveted ability to create his own shot are mouthwatering for any front office. To capitalize on Jabari’s value, on the right deal, he could certainly be signed and eventually traded if things don’t go as planned.

Production:

Coming off a 12 month hiatus to rehab his second torn ACL, you would expect to see some rust in his game, but this just isn’t the case. Parker is playing more efficient than ever. His per 36 minute averages of 19.2 points and 7.1 rebounds on 53.5% from the field and 41.5% from three are nothing short of outstanding. Sure, his defense hasn’t been stellar, but its easy to overlook his shortcomings on the defensive end when the Buck’s team defense has been subpar at best.

Though known for his iso scoring and ability to create his own shot, Jabari’s development of a 3 point shot has made him far more dangerous as an off-ball player. This is essential when taking into Giannis’ lofty usage rate, as two ball dominant forwards can spell disaster for an offense. In addition to a 3 point shot, Jabari has shown improved passing ability and overall versatility on the offensive end. He can punish larger defenders with his quickness off the dribble while using his muscular frame to play bully-ball on smaller defenders.

According to NBC Sports, with neither Antetokounmpo nor Parker on the floor, the Bucks have played like a 15-win team. Without Antetokounmpo and with Parker, the Bucks have played like a 26-win team. While both those totals are atrocious, it is clear that Jabari is vital to keeping the Bucks competitive when Giannis is off the floor. And with Antetokounmpo playing a league high in minutes this season, it would be nice to give him a rest periodically while still remaining competitive.

NBA.com

Cons:

Injury History:

The deafening silence of the Bradley Center during an early February matchup against the Heat still haunts Bucks fans to this day. Only two other NBA players have suffered 2 ACL tears, Josh Howard and Michael Redd, and both were on the wrong end of 30 when these injuries occurred.

This leaves Jabari in an injury league of his own; his career is just getting started, but he has already underwent two major surgeries that are known to affect athletic ability. Parker’s play style is heavily reliant on his athleticism, and another serious injury could cause his offensive game to suffer. While he isn’t necessarily at a higher risk of another serious injury, its impossible to ignore the trend of reinjuring knees (*Derrick Rose, *Tracy McGrady).

Aside from the physical bearings of the injuries, Jabari’s absence had additional repercussions that have marred the front office’s decisions. The time lost for Parker and Giannis to build chemistry, and for Milwaukee to evaluate the duo, is sadly irreplaceable. Any evaluations on how Jabari meshes with Giannis and the rest of the roster are based on very limited observation. Milwaukee is left with minimal sample size and pure speculation to decide how well Parker works within different lineups and the organization as a whole.

Money:

A new age of Free Agency has dawned over the NBA in recent years. Teams like the Brooklyn Nets are willing to woefully overpay players, giving max offer sheets to role players each of the past two summers. With the salary cap for next season projected at $108 million, there is nothing stopping the Net’s from shoving an over $27 million a year maximum deal in Jabari’s face. Having to match such a lucrative offer could have serious implications for Milwaukee in the coming years, as they look to build a championship contending team around Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The Bucks already have $104,034,259 committed to 10 players next season. With an impending Malcolm Brogdon extension along with 4 more roster spots to fill, the Bucks would be lucky to avoid the luxury tax next season. Adding a max contract to this cesspool of salary issues could essentially cripple any chance of acquiring major talent in free agency. The team is in dire need of a rebounding/defensive center. While unloading the contracts of Henson, Dellavedova, and Teletovic is ideal, the Bucks would almost certainly have to throw in a sweetener, and their 1st round pick this season already belongs to Phoenix as part of the Bledsoe deal. Shedding salary is already a priority this summer, but giving up a draft pick to clear cap seems like a hefty tradeoff to sign Jabari to a max deal.

 

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About Logan Collien

From Madison, WI Twitter: @lcollien

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