Jabari Parker, Bulls Agree to 2-Year Contract; Bucks Rescind Offer

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 14, 2018

Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker (12) in the second half overtime of an NBA basketball game Sunday, April 1, 2018. The Nuggets won 128-125 in overtime. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

After spending his first four seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks, Jabari Parker agreed to a two-year, $40 million deal with the Chicago Bulls, the team announced Saturday.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the news. Wojnarowski noted the second year on Parker's deal was a team option, giving the Bulls an out should Parker struggle. 

Parker was a restricted free agent after Milwaukee extended him a qualifying offer earlier this summer. However, the Bucks didn't match Chicago's sheet and rescinded the qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent.

The Chicago Tribune's Malika Andrews passed along Milwaukee's release:

Wojnarowski noted the Bucks worked in good faith with Parker and his agent to allow them to negotiate a deal with his hometown Bulls.

Given his extensive injury history and talent, Parker was one of the most intriguing free agents on the open market.

Parker only played 25 games as a rookie after tearing his ACL in December 2014. He returned in 2015-16 to average 14.1 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.

Parker thanked the Bucks' training staff after the deal was announced: 

He took a major jump forward in 2016-17, when he shot 36.5 percent from three-point range and averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.

Between Parker, Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks had a bright outlook. But 51 games into the season, Parker tore his left ACL for a second time, which meant a yearlong layoff.

He made his 2017-18 debut in Milwaukee's 92-90 win over the New York Knicks on February 2. He played a little under 15 minutes, scoring 12 points and grabbing three rebounds.

The 23-year-old made 31 appearances, averaging 12.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists. He also shot 38.3 percent from beyond the arc.

Jabari Parker Shooting by Distance (2015-16)
DistanceFGMFGAFG%
Less than 5 ft.28846561.9
5-9 ft.328438.1
10-14 ft.388544.7
15-19 ft.6119032.1
20-24 ft.216432.8
25 ft or More31127.3
Source: NBA.com

There's always risk baked in to contracts for stars coming off their rookie deals. Teams pay not only for how good the player is, but also for how good they could be. And potential doesn't always materialize.

Parker's ACL issues add to that risk. Even if he stays healthy, it's still unclear whether his knee injuries have impacted his ceiling.

Derrick Rose is a perfect example of how chronic knee problems can alter a player's game. At the other end of the spectrum, Joel Embiid is a top-10 star despite missing two-and-a-half years.

Parker is a Chicago native and played a starring role at Simeon Career Academy in high school, which is Rose's alma mater. Having a hometown star on the roster should boost fan interest during what's still a painful rebuild for the Bulls.

That emotional pull will only last for so long, though, before fans will expect results. Dwyane Wade's homecoming didn't go to plan in 2016-17.

Signing Parker makes sense for Chicago since he should be in his prime when the Bulls are a playoff contender again. They weren't in a position to add the best free agents on the market, either. That means the front office had to set its sights lower or "up [its] risk profile" in the words of Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey.

Chicago did so with Parker.

While the attraction to signing him is clear, it's a bit surprising the Bulls were willing to make this much of an investment in a player with a history of knee injuries after they watched Rose's career fall apart for that very reason.

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