Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker told reporters on Thursday that he felt like he was "cut short" and "wasn't supported" when his role was reduced in the playoffs, adding that he has been waiting two years for this and deserves "to be out there." Parker said he is human and has feelings, but is trying to be a good teammate and handled the situation better in Game 2 than the series opener. Here is video of some of his comments:
Parker, who played 15 minutes in Game 1 and 10 minutes in Game 2, also said that he doesn't think he's on coach Joe Prunty's good side:
Jabari Parker was very animated talking about his frustration right now with limited minutes. He mentioned the only way to see the floor more was to be on the “coach’s good side”. When asked if he was on Prunty’s good side, he smirked and said “I don’t think so.” #Bucks— Stephen Watson (@WISN_Watson) April 19, 2018
Yikes. There are a few different angles from which to look at this, but let's start with the unfortunate reality: In his limited minutes in the first two playoff games of his career, Parker has not made a great case for more playing time. He scored two points on 1-for-5 shooting in Game 1, and Milwaukee was outscored by 14 points when he was on the court. Game 2 wasn't any better by the numbers: he was scoreless, missing both of his shots, and the Bucks were outscored by 15 points in his minutes. Parker is a scorer, and if he is not producing in that capacity, he is not the type of player who is going to make up for it with shutdown defense, solid screen-setting or ferocious rebounding.
This is not to say, however, that Parker is solely to blame for this situation. Part of Prunty's job is to get the most out of all of his players, and it is difficult to argue that Parker's skill set is being optimized right now. Milwaukee's offense is disjointed and predictable, and it has largely relied on Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton trying to beat the Boston Celtics by . That is not a winning formula, and in an ideal world, the Bucks would run a system where everybody -- especially a player as talented as Parker with the ball in his hands -- feels empowered to make plays.
Milwaukee's inability to be more than the sum of its parts this season hangs over the entire organization, not just Prunty and Parker. The 23-year-old forward is in a particularly interesting spot, though, because of his journey and his contractual situation. Once viewed as Antetokounmpo's equal and a core building block, the No. 2 pick in the 2014 draft is now coming off the bench. He has torn his left ACL twice in his NBA career, limiting the amount of minutes he has played next to Middleton and Antetokounmpo and making the Bucks' decision on his future a difficult and complicated one. Parker will be a restricted free agent this summer, and he recently told the Washington Post's Tim Bontemps that his future with the team is "uncertain." You can bet it is even less certain now.