The Brooklyn Nets are among the worst teams in the league this season. Their first-round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft is with the Cleveland Cavaliers, which means they will have no other choice but to strike trades or sign top free agents if they want to turn their fortunes around next season.
The Nets acquired a potential building block in Jahlil Okafor in a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers in December. However, the experiment is not working for Brooklyn. Okafor will become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Omri Benami of Nothin’ But Nets thinks that the Nets should let Okafor go and chase Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker.
Okafor has not played a lot this season. He hasn’t seen action since February 12 when Nets coach Kenny Atkinson decided to field him in during their 120-97 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday. Atkinson remains non-committal about Okafor’s playing minutes, which could be a sign they will likely let him go in the offseason.
Benami believes letting Okafor go in free agency makes sense for Brooklyn because it will give them room to chase other free agents. He named Parker as one of the ideal targets for the Nets in the event they decide to move on from Okafor, who is only averaging 6.0 points and 3.0 rebounds per game this season.
Parker will also become available on the market in the offseason, but he will be a restricted free agent. The Bucks have the rights to match an offer sheet for Parker to keep him, which means the Nets should sign him to a lucrative deal that would be hard for Milwaukee to match. If the Nets can find a way to offer a maximum or near-max contract to Parker, the Bucks are unlikely to match, considering their current cap situation.
Parker, the second overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, missed the first half of the season after recovering from a second ACL surgery. While there are question marks about his durability, Benami said that Parker would be a good fit for the young Nets squad. In his first 16 games this season, the former Duke standout averaged 10.9 points and 4.1 rebounds in 21.0 minutes per game.
Benami is also convinced that Parker can be the perfect frontcourt partner for emerging center Jarrett Allen, who is averaging 8.1 points and 5.3 rebounds in his rookie season. The 23-year-old forward can also grow alongside promising guards D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie, who is having a breakout season this year.