By Lamar Battle
The Bulls signed UN-restricted free agent and former number two pick in the draft Jabari Parker to a two year 40 million contract.
In selecting the 23 year old Parker the Chicago Bulls may have pulled a fast one over on the rest of the NBA.
Most observers point to Jabari’s injury history as a reason to proceed with caution (two Anterior Cruciate Ligament) injuries on his left knee.
There are risk involved and the Bulls mitigated them by installing a team option on the last year of a two year deal. Fact of the matter is the risk was well worth it.
As the number two pick in the 2014 NBA Draft Jabari was projected to be a star player for years to come. We are talking about a 6′-8″ small/power forward with an improved three point shot (over 38%) slashing and post up abilities. Jabari is a good passer, smart and solidly built (given his Tongan roots).
Scouts have pointed to Jabari’s defensive lapses as cause for concern and he will have to show improvement in those areas, however, the Bulls also have some work ahead of them on that end of the floor (finishing 28th in defensive ratings). Bulls rookie and number 7th pick Wendell Carter Jr will shore up the interior defense not only because of his shot blocking abilities but also his intelligence and incredibly quick feet.
Actually what the Bulls have done is accelerated their rebuilding process and established a (much needed) team pecking order with Jabari and potential Hall Of Fame player Lauri Markkanen. The team now boast a group of high draft picks that are long, mobile and young. With Denzel Valentine and Justin Holiday the Bulls have also strengthened the bench with guys that have been starters in the past.
Yes, the move to acquire Jabari Parker was not without risk but the potential rewards far out weigh them. The next free agent class (2019) promises to be a good one but the Bulls chances of realistically landing a player as good as Jabari out of that class are slim. Who can see Karl Anthony Towns, Kevin Durant or Jimmy Butler saying we would really like to join Chicago and play with their young team ?
The Bulls have managed to do is stay on the path of incremental development while making the team competitive in a suddenly wide-open Eastern Conference.
As for Jabari Parker, his response to double ACL surgeries as told to Sports Illustrated was…” This thing I’m going through is creating some type of greatness. What better way to learn things than for them to be hard? This type of rehab, this type of journey that I’m living through right now is necessary for my development. It’s trying to teach me that it all can be taken in an instant”.
Looks like the Chicago Bulls made the right choice and I suspect his best years are still to come.