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Bulls officially sign Jabari Parker to short-term balloon contract

2 years, $40m, with 2nd year as a team option

Milwaukee Bucks v Chicago Bulls Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

It’s official, the Bulls are signing Jabari Parker:

The former Simeon High star verbally agreed to sign a two-year, $40 million deal with the Bulls after the Bucks worked to rescind their qualifying offer past last night’s deadline. This gesture made Parker an unrestricted free agent and allowed the Bulls to negotiate with him without signing him to an offer sheet.

The second year of Parker’s deal isn’t fully guaranteed, sources said. Essentially, it’s a team option, which gives the Bulls and Parker a season to prove he’s healthy after suffering two torn left ACLs in his first four seasons in the league.

The news of it being a one-year deal with a future year under team control is good. Though the $20M figure is so high that it’ll put the Bulls in a similar spot next season even if Parker plays well: they likely won’t have enough cap space to offer a max deal to a free agent unless they move from Parker’s deal. I suppose they could sign a longer-term one then with less first year money.

But that’s already jumping ahead a season, one which the Bulls reportedly plan on starting Parker at small forward. It’s not a great fit.

There’s the attitude that fit doesn’t matter when you stink, and there’s truth to that. But seeing any totally dismissive reaction to that gives me the Dwyane Wade heebie-jeebies. That was presented at the time too as a ‘can’t miss, low-risk’ deal (and also created ‘buzz’ with playoff talk and jersey sales, hmmm), but Wade wasn’t only bad but also such a detrimental effect on the whole team that the Bulls felt they had to (play themselves) go into embarking on a rebuild PATH.

Obviously, Parker is much younger, and there’s likely less impact on what should be the ‘foundational pieces’, as that’s literally only Lauri Markkanen at the moment. Though both he and Parker play best at the same position, so that’s not great. If you are super confident in your Summer League scouting you can worry about the impact on Wendell Carter as well. Zach LaVine...I don’t know man he doesn’t seem that important but he makes nearly $20m so that is also something!

Initial reaction, or at least sleeping on it, is that I’m ok as it’s at least something, but it’s not some obviously commendable shrewd move with this massive cap space the Bulls had. But say they take on a bad contract and got a middling draft pick...that pick isn’t likely to have the potential Jabari Parker has.

But I do think this isn’t totally low-risk, in that it could go so bad coupled with raised expectations (whether it makes sense or not) that Hoiberg gets fired and (much more importantly) the development of other young players is hindered by Parker and LaVine taking a ton of shots and allowing blow-bys on the other end. The upside is the buzz of a ‘young up and coming team’ that can be sold to 2019 free agents. But a looming question is whether Parker and LaVine, while talented, are actually contributors to winning. Like, would the Bulls have more wins this year and a better-facilitated environment for Markkanen, Carter, etc. by re-signing role players like David Nwaba at the wing. Parker and LaVine could be accidental tank commanders, something the Bulls are not planning for this year.

The Bulls do still have the Room Exception (~$4.4m) to potentially re-sign Nwaba or someone else around the edges.