It is official, Jabari Parker is coming home. The Chicago Bulls signed the Chicago native and former Simeon star to a two-year, $40 million deal this morning.
I know there are some Bulls fans that are not happy about the signing, and I get it. Basketball wise, Parker is not an ideal fit for this currently constructed Bulls team. While he can get buckets, trotting him out at the three next to Zach LaVine might spell trouble for the Bulls on the defensive side of the ball. But, the second year of Parker’s deal is a team option, which is precisely what makes this deal a win-win for both of the parties involved.
For Parker, it is a prove it or lose it kind of deal. He gets a season to show that he’s completely healthy after suffering two torn left ACLs. There were signs of his explosion being back last season, which is a great start:
Parker will also need to prove that he can play in Fred Hoiberg’s offense, improve on defense, and most importantly, that he is a good fit next to the Bulls foundational pieces in Lauri Markannen and LaVine.
For the Bulls, they are taking a calculated risk on a young, talented hometown kid, while still maintaining their cap flexibility for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. Gar Forman and John Paxson aka GarPax have stated many times that they want to accumulate talent and assets, all while maintaining cap space during this rebuild. This is a low-risk, short-term deal that allows them to do just that.
The Bulls starting 5 will also all be 24 years old or younger. And, if they end up starting their latest lotto pick, Wendell Carter Jr., their lineup will be ages 19, 21 (Markkanen), 23 (Parker, LaVine) and 24 (Kris Dunn). And, here is a fun fact, each player was a lottery pick. The Bulls would definitely be, as Forman once famously said, “younger and more athletic.” This roster also gives them a legitimate chance at gunning for the playoffs (7/8 seed) while rebuilding, all while keeping the pipe dream of acquiring Anthony Davis still alive.
In regards to Parker’s off the court fit, the kid is amazing and is doing big things for the Chicago-land community. He is a very well-spoken and polished kid who is going to have a major impact on the city off the court.I had the pleasure of meeting Parker at an ESPN event last year, and was truly impressed with the initiatives he has started to improve our city. Here is a great piece by my guy Ricky O’Donnell on how Parker has been working to improve our city.
So after all of that, naturally I am all-in on this deal. Even though we won’t title contenders, this should be a fun season for Bulls fans.