The Milwaukee Bucks remain in a precarious situation this offseason. Hamstrung by the diamond-plated contracts John Hammond placed at the feet of middling talent, Milwaukee is staring at a summer where they remain above the salary cap before the free agent festivities have even begun. After locking into long-term money with John Henson, Mirza Teletovic (now only a $3.5 million mark on the cap sheet) and Matthew Dellavedova, the Bucks major transaction last summer was a lonesome Tony Snell contract. Milwaukee’s primary tool in this cap-strapped summer is their mid-level exception (up to $8.6M), but happiness mainly boils down to what the Bucks shouldn’t do: overpay for Jabari Parker.
After reportedly turning down a 3-year, $54 million dollar extension before last season, Jabari bet he could snag more long term money with a resurgence this year. His up-and-down play showed promise with continued 3-point ability but little in the way of dependability as his production waxed and waned. The introduction of a new coach further throws into question what, exactly, his role would be on this Milwaukee squad given his mild positional overlap with Giannis. Theoretically, his off-ball shooting, cutting and ability to streak toward the hoop off a catch seem like a fine fit next to Giannis. In reality, I’m not so sure Jabari envisions that sort of deferential role for himself.
The greatest fear for fans, particularly given his checkered injury history, remains the prospect of propping up Jabari’s contract at big money over many years. That’s the worst of both worlds, given he may not be worthy of that high a figure and if he’s injured once more that’s immediately a franchise albatross rather than something that comes off the books quickly. A one year deal gives more time to see how he integrates with Bud, but it also just kicks the can down the road to a summer when decisions must be made on Malcolm Brogdon, Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe.
Jabari Parker on a $12-14M deal could probably be stomached, but I’d like if it included team options within there and a Joel Embiid contract style set of trap doors for Horst and company to slide through if necessary. What scares me is Milwaukee’s penchant for retaining their roster guys at above market prices. Just look at the folks mentioned above still raiding the coffers. If there were a fresh voice running things, rather than a near Bucks lifer who recalls the excitement surrounding Jabari’s selection, I’d feel far more comfortable with the impending situation. With Horst though, he went right ahead and followed Hammond’s playbook in signing Tony Snell last offseason to an iffy deal at the time that could turn sour. Let’s hope his predecessor’s deals have taught him enough to avoid angering fans with a bloated Jabari Parker contract.