The Jabari Parker era in Chicago barely lasted three months before the team’s new head coach, Jim Boylen, announced that he would be out of the rotation going forward, leading many to believe Parker’s time with the Bulls is already almost over.
Although the team reportedly doesn’t view the demotion as permanent, they’re still taking calls on Parker and having discussions with various teams on potential deals.
It makes sense that the Duke product has multiple interested suitors. After all, although his deal is worth a hefty $40 million over two years, his contract does have a club option on it for Year-2. This means acquiring Parker wouldn’t be a massive long-term undertaking, but rather more of a short-term tryout.
What’s more, Parker’s play had improved over recent weeks, prior to the return of Lauri Markkanen, as the 23-year-old was finally starting to show some semblance of his pre-injury form. Parker had a 17-game stretch from Nov. 3 to Dec. 7 where he was putting up 17.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists nightly while shooting 46.1 percent from the floor.
A former No. 2 pick on what amounts to a one-year deal is more than a worthwhile gamble, hence the decent market for Parker.
Below, we break down four teams that could make sense as potential Parker trade destinations.
After striking out on various high-level free agents or trade targets in recent years (Jimmy Butler, Gordon Hayward and Kevin Durant among them), the Miami Heat could look to Parker next. The Chicago native obviously isn’t anywhere as good as the aforementioned players Miami swung and missed on, but he’s still just 23 years old and possesses a decent amount of upside.
Parker’s ability to score from the wing could be particularly interesting for a Heat team that currently ranks 25th league-wide in offensive efficiency, and lacks many one-on-one bucket-getting options.
With Justise Winslow proving to be at his best as a pseudo point-guard type, Miami could see Parker as someone who could fill the role as the team’s stretch-4 of the future. After all, a young core featuring Winslow, Parker, Josh Richardson and Bam Adebayo, four guys who have intertwining strengths and can mask each others’ weaknesses, could be interesting, and surely more promising than the Heat’s current payroll situation.
Figuring out an exact trade that could get a deal done isn’t easy, but Miami does have a few different options that could facilitate a deal as far as salary matching goes, including Tyler Johnson, or a package of Dion Waiters and Kelly Olynyk. Of course, the Heat would have to sweeten the pot with an asset like a first-round pick in order to pique Chicago’s interest, and it’s unclear whether they’d be willing to do that.
The Phoenix Suns entered the season with the hopes of fielding a more competitive team. Thus far through 30 games, they have failed at that task spectacularly. Phoenix currently sits at 6-24, the worst record in the league, and has a -10.5 net rating.
So if the Suns and their notoriously impatient owner Robert Sarver truly want to start turning the corner, making a move for a proven player like Parker could help. Phoenix may have a plethora of young wings in their rotation already, but none have shown all that much so far early in their careers (and that’s putting it kindly).
Parker’s ability to score and at least be a relative threat from the outside would help the Suns form quite the interesting frontcourt, featuring he and 2018 No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton. The defense would struggle – mightily, at that – but Phoenix needs just as much help on offense (where they rank 26th), as they do on the point-stopping end of the floor.
As far as how they could go about getting a deal done, Ryan Anderson is making roughly the same amount of money as Parker this season, so pulling off a one-for-one swap, with picks included, wouldn’t be all that difficult.
Landing Parker wouldn’t change Phoenix’s fortunes right away, but it would give Ayton and Devin Booker a running partner in the form of a guy who can get you buckets from the perimeter and on the low block.
With Kevin Love still set to miss an extended amount of time due to injury, now could be a smart time for the Cleveland Cavaliers to try and execute a trade for Parker and use the next few weeks or months as an audition (of sorts) for him.
If they like what they see out of the 6-foot-8 wing, they can bring him back next season and then use his non-Bird Rights to re-sign him in the summer of 2020. And if they aren’t impressed, they can just decline his option for next season and let him walk.
With the Cavs currently in rebuilding mode, picking up pieces like Parker – who’s still young enough and has potential as a scorer – could help expedite the process a bit. A scorer like Parker would mesh nicely with players such as Cedi Osman and Collin Sexton, the two most promising young pieces on Cleveland’s roster.
With John Collins looking like one member of the Atlanta Hawks’ frontcourt of the future, finding the player who will share the big-man duties with him for years to come is a necessity.
Rounding out the five of the future with a player like Parker would be intriguing, especially since Atlanta already has very promising pieces at the point (Trae Young), at the two (Kevin Huerter) and on the wing (Taurean Prince).
Although Collins hasn’t really shown much as a three-point shooter (despite the form on his jumper being far from broken), the fact he and Parker can at least be threats from the outside would stretch defenses out and make room for guys like Young and Prince to carve up opponents.
Salary-wise, the Hawks have a few options as far as who they can offer for Parker, including Kent Bazemore, Jeremy Lin and Miles Plumlee, serviceable veterans who are not building blocks for the team’s future.
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