This summer’s NBA free agent market features some intriguing players who are poised to fall under the radar, such as forward Jabari Parker.
The 2014 number two overall pick signed a two-year deal with the Chicago Bulls last offseason, but was traded to the Washington Wizards before the NBA trade deadline.
The Wizards recently declined the second year of Parker’s contract, making him an unrestricted free agent. While the Wizards re-signing Parker isn’t out of the picture, there are factors that make a contract agreement between the two sides complex.
Those factors include the drafting of forward Rui Hachimura with the number nine overall pick in last week’s NBA Draft and forward Bobby Portis’ looming restricted free agency.
Here are three ideal free agent landing spots for Parker.
3. Brooklyn Nets
The Nets are hoping to undergo a franchising-altering offseason, mostly in the way of signing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, but if they whiff on doing so, allocating a portion of their cap space on Jabari Parker would be a savvy move.
Yes, Caris LeVert has shown an ability to be a steady scorer, Spencer Dinwiddie is one of the best reserve scorers in the NBA, Joe Harris is an elite outside sniper, and Jared Dudley is a reliable defender, but the Nets need to add frontline scoring — even if they sign Irving, or keep D’Angelo Russell.
Parker is a physical mismatch. Standing at 6-foot-8 and 245 pounds, he’s able to finish through contact and draw fouls while attacking the rim. In split time with the Bulls and Wizards, Parker averaged 14.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game while shooting a career-best 49.3 percent from the field.
While they have capable scorers, the Nets don’t have a definitive number two scoring option. Parker could be such a player for the Nets, taking attention off LeVert and maybe even center Jarrett Allen inside — taking head coach Kenny Atkinson’s offense to the next level.
Sometimes steady improvements are better than drastic ones. The Nets went from being on the outside looking in at the playoffs to being the six seed in the Eastern Conference.
Adding Parker to a core that has continuity would continue their growth as a unit and boost their aspirations of moving up in the conference.
2. Philadelphia 76ers
Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris are set to hit the open market, and there’s zero guarantee that the 76ers retain either player. At the same time, if the two depart from Philly, the 76ers have nearly $60 million to toy with, and Jabari Parker would be a great fit in head coach Brett Brown’s rotation.
Right now, the 76ers have just four players under contract (Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Zhaire Smith, and Jonah Bolden). The best way to address that issue is by signing multiple players instead of a star — especially since they’re supposed to have two franchise players in Embiid and Simmons. The East is full of high-octane offenses, and the 76ers could be forced to remake theirs.
Parker plays with aggression, moves well for his size, and would be a great fit alongside Embiid. If the big man doesn’t have position in the post, he can find Parker cutting, or if need be, Parker can penetrate inside.
The playoffs exposed Simmons’ inability to be a go-to scorer in crunch time, and having proven scorers who can take pressure off Simmons would allow him to become a more impactful player on that end of the floor.
Parker would fill the void created by Harris’ departure and have the chance to reinvent himself on a team perceived as a threat to win the East. Another bonus to signing Parker for the 76ers is that he likely would eat up, at most, a third of their cap space, giving them room to fill out a roster.
He’d be an efficient and impactful signing that keeps them afloat.
1. Memphis Grizzlies
Any team that signs Jabari Parker has to work with his suspect defense, but they’re also taking a chance on him potentially growing into the elite scorer the Milwaukee Bucks drafted him to become. For a rebuilding Grizzlies team that’s likely not going to be competing for the playoffs, he’s the perfect risk for them.
Even with Mike Conley and, for the first half of the season, Marc Gasol, the Grizzlies were one of the worst offensive teams in the NBA; they were 30th in the NBA in points per game (103.5). While drafting Ja Morant and having a second-year Jaren Jackson Jr. gives the Grizzlies reason to believe their offense will be better, they need more scorers, and the solutions won’t all come internally.
With identity grit and grinders such as Conley, Gasol, Zach Randolph, and others officially gone, the Grizzlies aren’t going to be a stout defensive team, meaning they have to be an energetic offensive team.
With the Grizzlies, Parker can play to his strengths and in a large way. While Morant is the Grizzlies’ future, Parker has five years of NBA experience under his belt and could potentially be first-year NBA head coach Taylor Jenkins’ number one source of offense from the outset. Retaining the likes of Jonas Valanciunas and Delon Wright — who were acquired from the Toronto Raptors for Gasol — would boost their offense too.
A short-term deal for a young player trying to stick with a team is the perfect situation for the Grizzlies to embrace.
Seeing if Parker can become a focal point of their offense — and future — doesn’t hurt them; it can only help.