By: Jeffrey Newholm
Former Buck Jabari Parker has signed a two year, $40 million contract with the Chicago Bulls, with the second year a team option. The move is a mild risk for Chicago, and an even bigger one for the Bucks. Chicago appears to be aiming for a playoff return, while Milwaukee loses a key actor in a decade-long rebuilding effort.
Milwaukee initially made a qualifying offer for Parker, making him a restricted free agent. This would allow the Bucks to match any offer made by another team. However, ESPN reports that money committed to others put Milwaukee only $8 million under the salary cap. With this not being enough to realistically allow a match, the Bucks rescinded the offer, making Parker an unrestricted free agent. Parker’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, praised Milwaukee, stating, “From the moment the Bucks drafted Jabari with the No. 2 pick in the 2014 Draft, they have gone out of their way to treat Jabari as a member of the Bucks family, and this is another perfect example of doing exactly that, and we’re very appreciative” (as quoted by NBA.com). But the Bucks are definitely worse off, and the Bulls improved.
Chicago has been poorly managed recently. 2016 brought an unfitting signing of Dwayne Wade and a quick playoff out, followed by last year’s lottery tank. The Parker signing, if successful, will return the Bulls to the postseason. However, this would place the Bulls in a well-worn competitive environment. And if Parker suffers a third leg injury, the move would be a complete bust. But the Bulls are at least taking a commendable risk, while Milwaukee has nothing to show for a #2 lottery pick. In the dreadful 15-67 2014 season, many Bucks fans looked forward to picking Parker. Milwaukee loses a critical ally of Antetokounmpo with no gain, even from cap relief. While franchise marketing continues to boast of a better future, a failure to retain a key piece from a teasing 2018 season reminds fans all too much of a long, futile past.