Celtics

Celtics waive forward Jabari Parker, opening up a roster spot

It's possible they could look to add a shooter.

Jabari Parker averaged 4.4 points per game for the Celtics this season. Stacy Bengs/AP Photo

The Celtics have waived forward Jabari Parker, the team announced Friday.

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium first reported the news.

“Celtics maintain roster flexibility with an open roster spot ahead of roster guarantee date,” Charania wrote. “Parker showed scoring ability over the past season in Boston.”

Parker’s $2.2 million contract would have been fully guaranteed Friday evening if he weren’t waived, and it’s clear the Celtics have made the decision to look elsewhere. 

He averaged 4.4 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12 games with Boston this season while shooting 47.4 percent from the field, 50 percent from 3, and 100 percent from the line. One highlight came when he chipped in 13 points in an overtime win over the Charlotte Hornets in October, and another happened on Christmas Day when he scored nine points in 12 minutes against the Milwaukee Bucks.

NBA salary cap consultant Yossi Gozlan said the Celtics waiving Parker brings them closer to getting below the luxury tax.

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“They go from $6.2M over the luxury tax to $5.6M over, reducing their tax payment by $1.1M,” Gozlan wrote. “I would imagine they get below the luxury tax by the trade deadline.”

MassLive reporter Brian Robb called it an “understandable” move from President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens.

“With the Celtics opening up a roster spot, they will have additional flexibility to maneuver leading up to the trade deadline on February 10th,” Robb wrote. “The team is holding multiple traded player exceptions and Stevens will likely be looking to make more changes with personnel.”

Many reporters have noted that the Celtics have had multiple shooters in the equation in recent years but have let them walk. What is now a glaring weakness could have been less of one if a couple decisions had been different. Garrison Mathews is averaging 11.8 points per game for the Houston Rockets and Max Strus is at 11.5 for the Miami Heat, and both have hit their stride with more of an opportunity.

John Karalis of Boston Sports Journal noted that Strus is currently outplaying Duncan Robinson while shooting 41.4 percent from 3. While it’s unclear how his career would have panned out in Boston, it does make one wonder, Karalis wrote.

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“Considering that he’s the exact type of player they need to space the floor right now, it’s a bit of a kick below the belt to watch him thrive elsewhere,” Karalis said.

The big question now, of course, is whether Stevens decides to simply bolster the current roster with pieces such as a shooter or veteran point guard, or if he chooses to blow it all up and trade either Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown. While it’s still unlikely Tatum or Brown will be traded anytime soon, it is possible. 

It’s clear the 18-21 Celtics – who are 2-11 in games decided by five points or fewer – need a shakeup of some kind.

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