The Boston Celtics are riding high, knocking off the defending NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night en route to their fifth consecutive victory. However, despite their sudden surge up the Eastern Conference rankings, their second unit has been under constant scrutiny. Owners of the league’s second-worst scoring bench, their struggles were on full display during the closing quarter of the Lakers game, where they surrendered a 21-2 run, nearly handing the game away in the final minutes.
On Friday, the team took a step toward potentially bolstering their second unit by kicking the tires on a former No. 2 overall pick.
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Celtics Sign Forward Jabari Parker, Waive Mo Wagner
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the Celtics have agreed to a two-year deal with forward Jabari Parker.
In a corresponding move, the team is waiving big-man Moe Wagner. Acquired in a three-team trade with the Chicago Bulls at the deadline, Wagner’s tenure in Beantown ends after just nine games (one start), 11 points and 19 rebounds.
Parker has seen injuries derail his once-perceived star trajectory. Though Parker was originally believed to be a viable second option to Giannis Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee, multiple ACL surgeries halted his career. With that said, he still possesses the ability to put the ball in the basket at a high rate.
Checking in at 6 feet, 8 inches tall and 245 pounds, the 26-year-old is a career 14.8 points per game scorer. Over his seven NBA seasons, Parker has shot 49.3% from the field and 32% from 3-point range to go along with 5.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists. Since 2016, the Duke product has averaged 15.0-plus points with three different teams.
However, his most recent stint was far less prolific than his prior stops. Parker last played for the Sacramento Kings but was waived late last month as a way for the team to trim their roster to the league’s maximum allotment following a slew of deadline trades. Despite being acquired in a trade with the Atlanta Hawks in February of 2020, Parker appeared in a total of just nine games (three this season) with the Kings, averaging 6.5 ppg.
Is Parker the Answer to Boston’s Bench Woes?
Aside from Evan Fournier — who remains in COVID protocol — the Celtics essentially lack any legitimate offensive threat from a non-starting wing, with none averaging more than 5.0 ppg this season.
This type of limitation is extremely detrimental to any playoff-caliber team, especially one that relies as heavily on Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum as Boston does. The last thing the Cs need is for their two All-Stars to get burnt out come May and July. Considering head coach Brad Stevens needed to reinsert his starters late in the Lakers game to ensure a victory, their current roster construction clearly didn’t have the pieces to help relieve their stars.
Now is Parker the end-all, be-all answer to the Celtics’ bench woes? It’s impossible to say so at this moment. However, as Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley noted more than two weeks ago, “Even if the reward is marginal” when it comes to signing Parker, “the risk is virtually non-existent.”
“The Celtics have searched for a second-team scoring spark all season,” Buckley stated while floating Parker as a buyout option earlier this month. “The fact they’re still searching suggests they might be desperate enough to take former second overall pick, Jabari Parker, for a spin — this bench needs buckets, and few available players get them as effortlessly as Parker.”
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