The Bucks began the 2016-2017 season with lots of hope. The roster consisted of a solid blend between talented youth and experience. However, as the trade deadline approaches, the Bucks’ season and future face grave uncertainty due to the serious knee injury of Jabari Parker.
On February 8, Parker suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. This is the second time he has torn this ACL in three seasons, and will be sidelined for an estimated 12 months.
Parker is slowly becoming the next injury-plagued player with superstar potential, similar to players like 2011 MVP Derrick Rose and 2008-2010 All-Star Brandon Roy. Jabari was having an impressive season, averaging 20.1 PPG with 6.2 RPG. When healthy, Jabari’s impact is undeniable – but his health is a potentially serious red flag for the organization.
As the Trade Deadline approaches, the Bucks are currently 24-30 and are competing for the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. Despite being in the thick of the playoff race, Jabari’s injury has the potential to end the team’s playoff contention for this season, and can damage their contention for next season since he is expected to miss approximately 50 games of the 2017-2018 season. Maybe it is time for the Bucks to try to salvage the 2017-2018 season by trading him for several draft picks or maybe, just maybe, Jabari’s rehab is worth the wait.
Assuming Jabari makes a full recovery, the Bucks should keep him for two reasons:
- The first reason involves the team’s youth. The Bucks team is not built for current success. This team consists of a plethora of young talent that will make this team competitive in the Eastern Conference for many years to come. All-Star starter Giannis Antetokounmpo is only 22 years old, Khris Middleton is only 25, and Rookie of the Year candidate Malcolm Brogdan is only 24. This team has an extremely talented nucleus that will be around for years to come. Not to mention, if the Bucks don’t make the playoffs, they’ll get another lottery pick. Jabari Parker is only 21 years old and will still have plenty of time to leave his imprint on the future of the franchise despite his most recent setback.
- The second reason involves the Bucks’ public perception. It is a terrible look for a franchise to ship off one of its best players due to recent injury. Despite it being very justifiable, it makes the organization look weak and disloyal. The message it sends is that the Bucks are willing to betray players in their times of need instead of giving them the support they deserve. That message could potentially hinder future free agents from taking their talents to Milwaukee, which is already a less-than-attractive destination for many NBA superstars.
However, if Jabari’s rehab does not go smoothly, the Bucks should trade him, despite the potential public backlash. The Bucks drafted Parker with the second pick in the 2014 draft because they believed that he could be a superstar that could transform this franchise into a consistent title contender. If Jabari is no longer that type of guy, then why should the Bucks expect him to maintain his previous success? One of the worst things a franchise can do is assume that a player will automatically return to his prior self after several devastating injuries. The Bulls recently learned that the hard way, expecting Derrick Rose to return to his MVP self despite several serious leg injuries. The Bulls’ loyalty, in hindsight, might have ruined the immediate success of the franchise by placing too much faith in an injury-plagued guard that had tremendous trade value a few seasons ago. Although the Bulls eventually did decide to trade him, it was too little too late, because they could have received a lot more if they pulled the trigger a few seasons ago. Now, as a result, they’re stuck in a mediocre purgatory.
Jabari’s health will remain a serious question mark over the next year, but I think I speak for everyone in the Bucks organization when I say that I hope he makes a speedy and full recovery.