NBA

Jabari Parker is a risk worth taking for Chicago Bulls

Jay Asser 16/07/2018
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Jabari Parker joined the Bulls on a two-year deal.

Jabari Parker remains one of the most enigmatic players in the NBA and the Chicago Bulls are eager to find out one way or the other if he can be something close to a star.

After waiting around as a restricted free agent this summer, Parker was finally snatched up by the Bulls, who handed him a two-year, $40 million deal that wasn’t matched by the Milwaukee Bucks.

Initially, the contract looks a little too rich for a player with Parker’s track record – namely his injury history (145 games missed over four years) and inconsistent play when he’s been on the floor.

However, the second year of Parker’s contract is a team option, meaning there’s very little downside for Chicago, who had cap space to burn this offseason and weren’t filling it with a star anyways. That cap space could have instead been used to soak up undesired contracts from other teams in exchange for draft picks, but it’s possible none of those hypothetical assets could turn out better than Parker.

If Parker blossoms in a new environment, the second year of the deal will be more than worth it. If he struggles or suffers a significant injury again, the Bulls can walk away after a year knowing they at least tried to unearth a gem.

For a team in Chicago’s position – near the bottom of the league and in desperate need for more talent – Parker is exactly the type of player worth taking a gamble on.

He’s only 23, came into the league as a highly-touted prospect and has shown enough flashes over four years to be considered a promising player.

While he’s below average defensively, Parker has all the tools to be an offensive force, as he showed two seasons ago when he averaged 20.1 points on 49.0 per cent shooting. His 3-point efficiency has also improved every year as he shot 38.3 per cent last season.

The problem for the Bulls is Parker should be deployed as a power forward, not a small forward, which is what he’ll likely play a lot of in Chicago’s lineups next to Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr.

Parker isn’t all that quick or rangy as a three, but at the four he can create mismatches on the offensive end. He also struggles to stay in front of athletic wings defensively, which is why having him cover power forwards makes him less of a liability.

If nothing else, Parker has an opportunity to put up stats on a relatively bad team, meaning he could potentially force his way onto the All-Star team in the weaker Eastern Conference.

The upside is he continues to get better and turns into a foundational piece for Chicago, who are also betting on Zach LaVine after giving him a four-year, $78 million deal.

The Bulls aren’t expected to be good just yet, but they’ll surely be interesting.

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NBA

Brooklyn Nets trade Jeremy Lin in series of shrewd moves to continue patient rebuild

Jay Asser 14/07/2018
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Nets general manager Sean Marks has put Brooklyn in a good position.

Sean Marks is steadily turning the Brooklyn Nets’ ship around with smart move after smart move.

Despite taking on the general manager job with hardly anything to work with back in 2016, Marks has worked to put the Nets in a favourable position for the future.

On Saturday, Brooklyn made two more transactions to improve their outlook.

First, they traded Jeremy Lin, a 2025 second-round pick and the right to swap second-round picks in 2023 to the Atlanta Hawks for a 2020 second-round pick via the Portland Trail Blazers and the rights to 2016 second-round pick Isaia Cordinier, according to ESPN.

By moving off of Lin’s contract, the Nets cleared $12.5 million in cap space, which paved the way for them to make their next trade with the Denver Nuggets.

Brooklyn agreed to take on the $21 million combined salary of Kenneth Faried and Darrell Arthur while netting a 2019 protected first-round pick (protected 1-12) and a 2020 second-round pick for their troubles. In return, Denver received Isaiah Whitehead.

The move is essentially a salary dump by the Nuggets, who will now save $43 million in payroll and luxury tax.

Faried and Arthur had struggled for playing time in Denver’s crowded frontcourt, but the Nets should be able to get more use out of the forwards this coming season before they hit free agency next summer.

Not only did Brooklyn get a first-round pick, but two serviceable players in the short term, all without cutting into their 2019 cap space, which could be enough for two max contract players.

The price for that was Lin, who was arguably the Nets’ most recognisable player and a favourite of Brooklyn minority owner Joseph Tsai, who wrote in a tweet after the trade: “I love Jeremy Lin because he represents the underdog in all of us – truly first class on and off the court.”

Still, the Nets have slowly, but surely, restocked their cupboard and set themselves up to become a lot better, potentially soon.

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NBA

From 'Brinks truck' to veteran's minimum: A timeline of Isaiah Thomas' tragic fall over the past year

Jay Asser 13/07/2018
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Isaiah Thomas has lost tens of millions of dollars in earning potential.

Here’s the timeline of Isaiah Thomas going from a potential max contract player to the veteran’s minimum with the Denver Nuggets in a little more than a year.

May 20, 2017: Thomas ruled out of playoffs with hip injury

After playing the day after his sister’s death and then through dental surgery earlier in the playoffs for the Celtics, Thomas has to be shut down due to a hip injury.

June 26, 2017: Thomas finishes fifth in MVP voting

Thomas is recognised for a season in which he averaged 28.9 points, 5.9 assists and 46.3 per cent shooting to lead the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals. It’s a remarkable achievement for a player who stands under six feet and was drafted with the last pick in 2011.

August 22, 2017: Thomas is traded to the Cavaliers for Irving

Boston send Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and Brooklyn’s 2018 first-round pick to Cleveland for Kyrie Irving. Thomas’ concerning physical, which reveals how serious his hip injury is, delays the trade before Boston throw in a second-round pick to complete it.

January 2, 2018: Thomas make his debut with the Cavaliers

Thomas finally returns to the court following months of recovery and looks good while scoring 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting in a win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

February 8, 2018: Thomas is traded to the Lakers

After struggling to find his rhythm and role with the Cavaliers, Thomas is moved to Los Angeles, where he comes off the bench to average 15.6 points on 38.3 per cent shooting.

March 28, 2018: Thomas undergoes hip surgery

Thomas has arthroscopic surgery on his right hip to clean up inflammatory debris from the injury suffered the previous year. The procedure ends his season after 32 games played between the Cavaliers and Lakers, with a four-month recovery time expected.

July 13, 2018: Thomas agrees to a one-year deal with Denver

The Denver Nuggets finally take a chance on Thomas with a one-year, $2 million deal after no other teams jump at the opportunity to sign the former All-Star in free agency. Thomas joins his former coach in Sacramento, Mike Malone, and a team with playoff aspirations.

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