Celtics waive former No. 2 overall pick Jabari Parker ahead of season opener, per report

Written by on October 17, 2021

The Boston Celtics are waiving former No. 2 overall pick Jabari Parker, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. Parker, only a seven-year veteran at the age of 26, has played for six NBA teams since being taken by the Milwaukee Bucks at the top of the 2014 NBA Draft. Five of those teams have come in the past three seasons. 

Parker, once an electric scorer, has struggled through injuries that have limited him offensively. He is a career 32.1 percent 3-point shooter, so he has struggled to compensate for those newfound physical limitations in that respect, and he once famously claimed that NBA teams “don’t pay players to play defense.” Without elite scoring inside of the arc, Parker’s utility has therefore waned significantly. 

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But there is a reason that this decision came now, specifically. Parker’s contract with the Celtics had an extremely team-friendly structure. Only $100,000 were guaranteed before the season. Had he been on the roster on opening night, that guarantee would have risen to $1.1 million. Had he been on the team all season, he would have made $2.3 million. Now, the Celtics save the bulk of that money. 

And it’s a good thing they did. Boston entered Sunday more than $6.8 million into the luxury tax, according to Spotrac. Waiving Parker cuts into that total, but if the Celtics are going to duck the tax entirely, they are going to have to trade a more expensive player. The obvious candidate is Juancho Hernangomez, who is making over $7 million but is easily tradable because his 2022-23 salary is non-guaranteed. Boston does not face an immediate need to get under the tax line, but doing so may be a priority due to all of the contract extensions handed out this offseason. With Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Robert Williams and Marcus Smart all making market-value deals, Boston probably wants to push back the start of its repeater tax clock as long as possible. 

Parker was, in all likelihood, a casualty of that financial reality. He will now attempt to find his seventh NBA home, but the odds are stacked against him for the time being. Rosters are largely set before the season begins on Tuesday, so he’ll probably have to wait for circumstances to change elsewhere before he can find another roster spot. 

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