If you thought the waiving of forward Jabari Parker meant that the Celtics would be nosing around for another player—another NBA big man, as was rumored—then think again. On the eve of the opening of the Celtics’ 2021-22 campaign, the Celtics brought back the former No. 2 overall pick on a deal that will shave a sliver of tax payment off the team’s books, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
Basically, when the team signed Parker last April after he was waived by Sacramento, it gave him a two-year, non-guaranteed deal that would cost the team only $100,000 if the option for this season were not picked up. But because it was a multi-year deal, the Celtics would take on a full veteran minimum’s cap hit, at $2.3 million for someone of seven years experience (like Parker), if Parker stuck around all year.
In a quirk of the NBA’s collective-bargaining agreement, a team is able to sign a veteran to a minimum deal for a cheaper price than he is actually paid, a way to keep veterans with higher minimum salaries in fair competition with younger players. Rather than $2.3 million, the Celtics will pay $1.6 million on Parker’s deal, a small but worthwhile savings on the luxury tax. The league eats the difference between Parker’s salary and what the Celtics will be charged with.
Parker Is a Veteran Scorer Who Will be a Solid Bench Option
Parker was effective in the preseason, even in limited (17.7) minutes. He averaged 7.0 points in three games and shot 50.0% from the 3-point line. He was excellent in his second preseason outing, scoring 10 points and making two of his three 3-point attempts in the game.
Still, he will be a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency option for the Celtics. Parker is only 26 and the Celtics are a team that could struggle with scoring off the bench, especially if point guard Dennis Schroder gets moved into the starting five. Parker’s defense was poor even before his injuries, so that will be an issue. But he can score, and that might be enough for the Celtics.
Parker has been something of a tragic figure in the NBA. He tore his left ACL as a rookie for Milwaukee, after he was the No. 2 pick in the 2014 draft, then tore it again in 2017, his third NBA season. Parker was averaging 20.1 points per game in 51 games that season and appeared on his way toward developing a good 3-point shot (he made 36.5% that year).
Parker has not been the same since, and the Celtics are his fifth team in his last three seasons since leaving Milwaukee. Parker only appeared in three games for the lowly Kings last year.
Celtics Hoped to Keep Parker Long-Term
But the Celtics are hoping Parker has some untapped potential in his banged-up body. After he was waived by the Kings last spring, the team was adamant that he was not a short-term rental. Parker played in just 10 games for Boston last year and averaged 6.4 points, though he did average 8.5 points on 61.9% shooting in four playoff games.
Coach Brad Stevens, now the team’s president, said at the time, “Jabari has been a good player in the league for a few years now and he has obviously had a rough couple of last stops. …. This is a plan beyond this year. We’re going to be patient in bringing him along. We’re looking mostly at him as a guy that can play some 4 for us, but also maybe some small-ball 5 in some lineups especially around some of our better players as a ball-mover, as a passer, as a playmaker, as a driver, as a guy that can put the ball in the basket and is a real threat to put the ball in the basket.”