Bulls appear ready to take calculated risk with free agent Parker
The Bulls appear ready to move on a hometown hero with a history of knee injuries.
No, not Derrick Rose. As of Friday afternoon, they were on the verge of making an offer to Milwaukee Bucks free agent forward Jabari Parker. Like Rose, Parker is a Chicago native who played in high school at Simeon.
Late Friday night, the Racine Journal Times reported the Bucks gave in and rescinded Parker's qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent and free to sign with any team. There is talk of a two-year deal worth around $40 million, though it's not clear yet how much of the money would be guaranteed.
The 6-foot-8 Parker is a risk, because he's torn the ACL in his left knee twice so far in his NBA career. After coming back from the second surgery, Parker averaged just 12.6 points in 31 games last season.
Even without the injuries, there is a question of where Parker fits on the basketball court. He played more power forward in Milwaukee, but is a bit undersized for that position. The Bulls will want him to play small forward next to Lauri Markkanen. There's a long list of promising draft picks that weren't big enough to play power forward or quick enough to handle small forward in the NBA.
On the other hand, Parker can be a very versatile offensive player. He averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and shot 49 percent from the field in 51 games during the 2016-17 campaign. That season came to a premature end when Parker suffered his second knee injury on Feb. 8, 2017 in a game against Miami.
At his best, Parker can score around the basket, knock down midrange jumpers and step out to the 3-point line. He shot a career-best 38.3 percent from 3-point range last year. The Bulls see him as a 23-year-old potential star, chosen second in the 2014 draft after Andrew Wiggins.
Parker did finish last season strong. In April, he averaged 19.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and hit 11 of 24 shots from 3-point range. Those numbers did not carry into Milwaukee's first-round playoff series against Boston.
So it could be a low-risk, high-reward proposition for the Bulls, depending on how the contract is structured. The Bucks seemed to be preparing for the possibility of Parker leaving this summer.
The way it looks now, the Bulls want to use Parker at small forward, joining a lineup with Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, Markkanen and either Robin Lopez or rookie Wendell Carter Jr. at center.
The Bulls cleared cap space in recent days by rescinding the qualifying offer to restricted free agent David Nwaba and releasing Sean Kilpatrick. They could gain more room by waiving non-guaranteed contracts of Paul Zipser and Julyan Stone, acquired last week from Orlando for Jerian Grant.