From our standpoint, Mark Karantzoulis gave the Bulls an uninspiring C- for signing Jabari Parker over the weekend. If you have an appetite for more content, grading the Parker signing was a popular subject for writers over the weekend. Here’s a roundup of the best ones.
Sports Illustrated Ben Golliver
Golliver calls out the Bulls for being predictable and grades the acquisition as an uninspiring ‘C.’
Indeed, signing Parker to a two-year, $40 million contract with a team option on Saturday might qualify as peak Bulls. The 23-year-old forward arrives on a steep salary despite two ACL surgeries during his four-year career in Milwaukee. He steps into a Bulls roster that already includes numerous scorers who double as minus defenders. And he now epitomizes the murky nature of Chicago’s rebuild, with his short-term deal serving as the latest placeholder for whatever comes next.
The Bulls love affair with guys coming off ACL injuries (Derrick Rose, Zach LaVine) and guys who are clunky fits (Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade) is disturbing.
But it’s cool that Parker, who is a great kid by all accounts, is coming home to play in his hometown. It brings back that Derrick Rose nostalgia. It’s cool that the Bulls are taking a risk on upside, something we’ve been screaming at them to do in the draft for years now. Now they are doing it in free agency. But, the Parker signing is still problematic as Golliver succinctly details in his final paragraph.
Parker doesn’t address the Bulls’ short-term needs because he’s not a lead playmaker or a plus frontcourt defender. He doesn’t address their long-term needs, as his health questions make it difficult for him to be a reliable face of the franchise or outperform his contract. And he doesn’t clarify their direction, as his individual success will almost certainly come at the expense of Chicago’s other core pieces. Put those factors together, and this signing, like so many other Bulls decisions in recent years, winds up being more sizzle than steak.
The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie
The Bulls took a chance on upside and Vecenie gushes about it in his evaluation.
For the Bulls, taking a risk on a talent like Parker makes sense while they remain in asset accumulation mode. They have team control for two years if he’s good, but only are stuck with him for one year if he doesn’t pan out. They maintain their salary cap flexibility into the summer of 2019 if they want to use it, while also using the cap space they have this year on a high-upside young player. The key will be figuring out a way to unlock Parker’s immense skill. That’s an equation Milwaukee didn’t really have the ability to solve, but the Bulls will at least have an opportunity to decipher.
The most interesting part of the article is Vecenie, although he notes that the Bulls will likely play Parker out of position, believes that he can be a good fit offensively with this squad.
In Chicago, he will find an attack that has potential to be uniquely suited to his gifts. Frontcourt mates Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter, and Bobby Portis can all space out beyond the 3-point line. Zach LaVine and Markkanen, particularly, are guys who have to be closed out on hard. Parker will not only likely be asked to take more 3s, given how important it is to Fred Hoiberg’s scheme, but he’ll also have likely have better driving lanes to the basket and more space to operate in the middle of the court. This has potential to have an extremely positive impact on his shot distribution. It also helps that the Bulls younger frontcourt pieces like Markkanen and Carter can be low-usage, high-efficiency players and allow Parker to get his without stealing the ball from others.
The Athletic’s Stephen Noh
Over at The Athletic, Stephen Noh looks at the signing from the fit, timing, possible alternatives, and contract angles.
Given Parker’s young age and his ability to improve, this isn’t a horrible deal for the Bulls. They could probably have used their cap space in a more effective way and I don’t like the timing, but ultimately it’s hard to fault them for wanting to get some talent in the building during the early stages of a rebuild.
Noh runs the net rating numbers when Parker is a three as opposed to when he plays the four and the difference is dramatic (he’s effective at the four, not so much at the three).
670 The Score’s Cody Westerlund
Westerlund focuses on Parker’s fit, coming to the probably correct conclusion.
In the end, it will all come back to the fit. My best guess is this will turn out to be a tad clunky. Will everyone sacrifice to the needed extent offensively? I also can’t imagine the Bulls building the foundation of a top-10 defense with both LaVine and Parker logging so many minutes.
The article is worth reading, especially as Westerlund takes subtle jabs at some of the Bulls famous talking points (cap space, flexibility, etc.), which is entertaining.
ESPN’s Kevin Pelton
Noh and Westerlund both talk about this as well, but Pelton really hammers home the point that the Bulls could have used their plethora of cap space in a more productive way than using it to sign Parker.
Chicago entered this summer capable of creating more cap space than any other team, which figured to put the Bulls in a power position when it came to demanding draft picks or prospects to take on bad salary. Yet the combination of matching LaVine’s offer sheet from the Sacramento Kings and making this one for Parker has exhausted Chicago’s cap space. In fact, the Bulls had to rescind their qualifying offer to second-year wing David Nwaba and renounce his rights just to sign Parker.
So Parker is all they have to show for the league’s most cap space, a disappointing outcome.