The Sacramento Kings are reportedly planning to waive Jabari Parker. Given that Parker was drafted by the Bucks with the second overall pick in 2014, it is natural that social media will immediately call for him to return to the Bucks. However, that might be the worst thing this contending Bucks team could do.
Jabari Parker: Bucks’ Rising Star
After the Bucks drafted Giannis Antetokounmpo with the 15th overall pick in 2013, the team went 15-67 and secured the second overall pick in the draft. Andrew Wiggins was taken first by Cleveland, leaving the Bucks to choose between Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid. The Bucks chose Parker, ironically because of concern over Embiid’s injury history.
Jabari Parker was instantly inserted into the Bucks’ starting lineup. Through 25 games, he was averaging 12.3 points and 5.5 rebounds. Unfortunately, Parker tore his ACL and missed the rest of the season.
Jabari Parker returned the following year and improved his scoring average to 14.1. What made the Bucks and their fans most excited about Parker was his third season. In 2016, Parker was averaging 20.1 points and 6.2 rebounds. At the same time, Giannis Antetokounmpo was on his way to his first All-Star appearance and the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award. The future looked bright with the two budding stars.
However, it was not to last. Parker tore the same ACL after 51 games into the season. He returned to the Bucks for 31 games in 2017, but the Bucks decided not to bring him back when his rookie contract expired.
Locker Room Issues in Milwaukee
During his tenure with the Bucks, Jabari Parker earned the ire of both coaches and teammates. An excellent offensive player, Parker has long been criticized for his effort on the defensive end. This continued in Milwaukee, which under head coach Jason Kidd was a defensive-minded team.
Parker did not help endear himself to coaches and teammates when he spoke to the media about what occurred in a players’ only meeting during a four-game losing streak. As a result of his actions, his teammates voted that he should be benched for breaking team rules. Needless to say, as good as he was, Milwaukee clearly was not a good fit.
Jarbari Parker and Chicago Drama
Following his exit from Milwaukee, Jabari Parker signed as a free agent with the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls were not a good team in 2018, and it was understood Parker was brought in to provide offense while the young talent developed around him. This is an interesting understanding given that Parker himself was only 23 in 2018. However, after two ACL surgeries and as a four-year veteran, it was understood that his time in Chicago would be short.
After inking a two-year deal with Chicago, Parker made comments in an interview with a Chicago radio station that would foreshadow the issues that led to his premature departure from the Bulls. In that interview, the host asked him about his defensive effort. As a response, Parker stated, “They don’t pay players to play defense.”
Unsurprisingly, Jarbari Parker found himself benched because of his lack of effort. Tensions were high between himself and the team, so he was traded midseason to the Washington Wizards.
Injuries and Travel
The common phrase that many use to describe Jabari Parker now is, “He’s a good player…when he’s healthy.” Unfortunately, that has not happened often. In 2019, Jabari Parker was averaging 15.0 points with the Atlanta Hawks. After 32 games, though, he injured his shoulder. Despite the injury, the Hawks were able to move him by trading him to the Sacramento Kings. Since joining the Kings, Parker has played in just nine games. In those games, he is averaging just 6.6 points and 2.0 rebounds.
This Is No Time to Be Sentimental
The Milwaukee Bucks cleared cap space when they traded for PJ Tucker. Now able to sign a free agent, they will be looking to add a veteran on the buyout market. Even though Jabari Parker will be on that market, the Bucks should stay away for three reasons.
First, they do not need another forward. PJ Tucker may not have the offensive talent of Jabari Parker, but the Bucks do not need him to. They need his defense, and he has impressed with his effort since joining the Bucks. If the Bucks were to added another power forward or center, it would be one who plays defense. As Parker himself as made clear, he will not do that.
Second, the Bucks need a backup point guard. One of the players they traded for Tucker was DJ Augustin. Now Jrue Holiday is the only point guard on the roster. If and when they Packers sign a waiver wire free agent, it will likely be a backcourt player.
Finally, the Bucks demand more than Parker is willing to give. For all the faults the team may display at times, lack of effort is never one of them. Fans decry Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Pat Connaughton, but never because they are not trying. To play for the Bucks, a player has to be willing to play defense and take a backseat offensively. For example, Bobby Portis, who signed with the Bucks this offseason, has always been an offense-first player. However, since joining the Bucks, his defensive effort has increased while he still gets his shots off the bench. This kind of “buy in” is something Parker has never indicated he is willing to do.
In short, the Bucks should stay far, far away from him once he is officially waived.
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