The musings about Jabari Parker and his upcoming restricted free agency negotiations with the Milwaukee Bucks have been simmering below the surface for some time now, but as Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post reports, it seems that Parker is at least considering the idea that he will not remain in Milwaukee...and it might be more than mere consideration.
The Parker-Antetokounmpo pairing is no longer looked at as the foundation upon which the Bucks are being built, and after a slow season in which he’s averaging just 11.9 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, Parker may soon find himself as not part of Milwaukee’s future at all.
“Honestly, it’s uncertain,” Parker said after a recent practice, in regards to his future in Milwaukee and his restricted free agency this summer. “I know that, just looking from afar, [the Bucks] will be fine.
“But I just have to see what’s going to happen with my future, and that’s uncertain. But I know for them, they’ll be fine regardless. They’ve been doing well.”
While it’s unusual to hear a player talk about his current team in such a detached way, Parker isn’t shy about speaking his mind. He is also right.
There’s a lot to unpack in such a short quote. Who says this following a practice in the regular season? How do you not simply answer the question with some cliché about how “you’re focused on helping the team now and winning and doing damage in the playoffs” and move on?
But most importantly, how does it look that Parker, who may have been questioned by fans and analysts but has maintained the unwavering loyalty from the Bucks’ franchise, keeps using “they” to refer to the team?
For a player that is interested in pursuing a max contract, Parker has an unconventional approach to wooing his current team to be the one to make the offer. Jabari’s motivations aren’t currently known, nor are his plans or preference for staying in Wisconsin, but this quote is simply baffling to me. The timing doesn’t make sense. The candor doesn’t make sense. The clear grammatical split between the player and the team doesn’t make sense.
Perhaps Jabari isn’t interested in posturing or negotiations through the media. Maybe he really is uncertain about his status on the team and is simply being honest when asked a question. Eric and Frank covered the topic on today’s episode of Locked on Bucks, noting that Parker was previously considered the future of the franchise, but injuries, timing, and the unexpected rise of Giannis Antetokounmpo relegated Parker a few spots lower on the totem pole.
People are complicated, more so when they’re smart, talented, and under a microscope. Jabari Parker is all of those things, but his decision to speak so candidly, and so negatively when it comes to his future in Milwaukee, on his impending restricted free agency defies explanation. He goes on to say that there is a lot of uncertainty in the business of the NBA, and that he wants to avoid getting too comfortable. And while that all is certainly true...how he chose to frame his words makes little sense.
That is, unless we subscribe to Occam’s razor, which leads us to select the solution that includes the fewest assumptions, and thus is the most simple. Jabari Parker is, for all intents and purposes, signaling that he is unhappy with his situation in Milwaukee, and would rather be somewhere else. More than enough fans will be quick to agree with his assessment, and Bontemps himself even notes that both parties might be better off with parting ways.
The Milwaukee Bucks set the table last summer for making some tough choices in the summer of 2018. If Parker’s quote is any indication of his state of mind, they might have seen one of those decisions just get a whole lot easier.