Being the No. 2 overall draft pick and drafted by a team approximately 90 minutes from Chicago, it wasn’t quite the fairy-tale scenario his Simeon predecessor Derrick Rose experienced upon entering the NBA, but Jabari Parker couldn’t complain about how things turned out for him.
The 6-foot-8 forward, regarded as the most-NBA ready prospect in last Thursday’s draft, expressed eagerness to begin his professional career in Milwaukee even before he was selected by the Bucks and paired with rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo, forming an intriguing, talented forward tandem for years to come. While it will be a long road to relevancy for a long-mediocre organization, Parker’s arrival represents hope. But as optimistic as observers were about the scorer transforming the franchise, with Saturday’s news of Nets head coach Jason Kidd making a power play to run basketball operations in Brooklyn, getting rebuffed and attempting to at least coach the Bucks (if not have complete organizational control), Parker is already getting a dose of how life works in the professional ranks.
The son of former Golden State Warriors forward Sonny Parker, the Duke product surely had some awareness of the realities of the NBA, but after starting to form a positive relationship with current Bucks head coach Larry Drew and general manager John Hammond, Parker is now subjected to rumors about the direction of the team. One of Milwaukee’s new co-owners, Marc Lasry, has a prior relationship with Kidd, going back to the future Hall of Fame point guard’s playing days in New Jersey, so in the minds of many, it’s a foregone conclusion that Kidd will not only take Drew’s job, but eventually Hammond’s, though the Bucks must come to an agreement with the Nets about compensation for the coach.
Whether or not Milwaukee eventually sacrifices a valuable first-round draft pick — the Bucks won’t be a contender in the short run and as a small-market team that historically hasn’t been able to draw prime free agents, rebuilding through lottery picks is their best option by far — or not, the league is buzzing about Kidd, and not in a good way. It isn’t an ideal situation for any of the players he’s soon likely to coach, certainly not a rookie slated to be the face of the franchise.
But if anybody’s equipped to handle such a tricky situation to begin his career, it’s Parker, who has always been mature beyond his years and already used to dealing with adversity, criticism and distractions, even if the instability in this case was caused by one of the people who should be guiding him.