How does Jabari Parker fit in Milwaukee?
The Bucks spent half the season trying to answer that difficult question. Now, with Parker headed into restricted free agency, the stakes are even higher.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has a resolution, though.
Antetokounmpo, via Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
“Jabari ain’t going nowhere,” Bucks all-star Giannis Antetokounmpo said. “He’s going to be here and he’s going to be ready for next season. And we will be all excited and playing in the new arena. And everyone is going to be having fun.”
Is this a message to the Bucks? Parker? Both?
Parker is talented, but multiple tears of his left ACL leave long-term questions. His 3-pointer – while significantly improved – isn’t totally reliable yet, and his defense is usually lacking. That limits how well he complements Antetokounmpo.
Parker clearly is unhappy with a smaller role. Will he ever get a satisfactorily large one in Milwaukee?
The Bucks are also near the luxury-tax line for next season. Getting Mirza Teletovic’s stretched salary excluded could provide breathing room, but that can’t happen until November – after the team must decide on Parker.
So, a split this summer could make sense.
But it’s uncertain Parker will draw a massive offer sheet. Milwaukee also doesn’t want to squander an asset.
Perhaps most importantly, the Bucks want to keep Antetokounmpo happy. Because they hold Parker’s restricted rights, they control this situation. And Antetokounmpo sounds pretty clear in his preference.