By Joshua M Hicks (@jhicks042)
Former Simeon Academy star Jabari Parker is happy to be home in Chicago and playing for the Bulls, but he admitted that hometown team was not the only offer he seriously considered.
Recently at an event sponsored by the Chicago Ideas Festival, the first-year Bulls forward acknowledged that he received multiple offers as a free agent this past summer. The Miami Heat, Sacramento Kings, Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers led the list of suitors inquiring for Parker’s services before he ultimately signed a two-year/$40 million contract, which includes the second year as a team option and guarantees him $20 million this season in a Bulls uniform.
If he did not chose the Bulls, who would have possibly been the next best suitor for the South Side native? It would have pretty much come down to what motivated the departing Milwaukee Buck most at the time. It would seem that the Bulls wound up offering Parker the most of what he’d like to have in his second NBA stop but there was a lot to tempt him in his other options.
If Parker’s mindset was to win or be part of a winning culture, he should’ve heavily considered the Lakers or Heat. The legendary Lakers franchise is the talk of the league since LeBron James made his transition from the Eastern Conference to the West.
If Parker joined the Lakers, he would thrive in a winning culture and in the pick and roll with James, Rajon Rondo and Lonzo Ball running the show as primary ball handlers, he would bring additional versatility within the big man lineup, especially as an offensive stretch-four mismatch, while also being an electric force by running the fast break next to James. He would have been a great addition to the Showtime that President of Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka have been striving to implement.
The problem is, he would most likely have to take a lot less money in LA than in his current deal to come off the bench due to the progression and high prioritized emphasis on Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram, and with him believing he is a starter-caliber player, it would be hard to see him take that offer.
The Miami Heat is a team that already had a nice mixture of young talent led by Josh Richardson, Justice Winslow and Bam Adebayo to pair with the veteran leadership of Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic and future hall of famer Dwyane Wade in his last go-around with the team he’s most associated with.
Being with a championship coach (Eric Spolestra), top tier management led by Pat Riley and a winning basketball culture, Parker could have continued to develop and grow with an experienced team in the East. Problems in that situation would have been similar with the Lakers from a financial standpoint, he would have to take less money to likely come off the bench.
If Parker wanted to get paid without focusing much on winning he should’ve chose the Kings or the Nets. Both teams had the cap space and both teams are not in a position to make the playoffs this season.
However, joining the Kings would be the best option out of those two teams due to the emergence of second-year player De’Aaron Fox and young core of Justin Jackson, Marvin Bagley and Buddy Hield. But the Bulls provided a motive that Parker really needs, and that’s constructive discomfort within an overall environment focused on growth.
Discomfort has played a role in Parker’s storyline since signing with the Bulls. His contract allows the Bulls to part ways with him after this season should he struggle or not be seen in the Bulls long-term plans, he is also coming off the bench, even though he came into the season thinking he would be starting.
As reported by K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, Parker feels that he is a starter in this league, and accepting a reduced role is going to be “a huge adjustment.”
“It would be a huge adjustment for me,” Parker said. “But I just have to change with the times.”
To be able to grow and experience these tough situations while also securing the bag, this is the perfect situation that Parker needed to be in.
Now its up to Parker to stay healthy, continue to grow and show not just the league, but the Bulls that the hometown celebrity is worthy of the team’s long-term project and has what it takes to add high quality to a winning culture.
Joshua M. Hicks is the lead columnist of WARR