The Milwaukee Bucks were once involved in the trade discussion between the Houston Rockets and the New York Knicks for All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony. Ian Begley of ESPN New York reported that the Bucks explored the idea of becoming the conduit party which would facilitate Anthony’s transfer to the Rockets.

Failed three-team trade

Begley’s report indicated the Bucks tried to dangle one of their promising young players as trade bait. Jabari Parker, who posted career-high numbers (20.1 ppg and 6.2 rpg) before suffering his second ACL injury midway into the 2016/17 season, emerged as the centerpiece of the Bucks’ trade package that also included John Henson or Greg Monroe.

Milwaukee reportedly wanted to shed salaries after its payroll jump to $122 million as a result of Giannis Antetokounmpo’s contract extension deal ($100 million over five years) and Tony Snell’s new contract ($46 million over four years).

The Knicks, on the other hand, wanted a competitive trade package for Anthony. The Rockets have been trying to convince the Knicks in accepting Ryan Anderson, but the player’s bloated contract ($60 million over three years) proves to be the biggest obstacle in the trade talks. The Bucks were also not keen in absorbing Anderson’s contract since they are on a cost-cutting mode.

“It’s unclear which side — the Knicks or Bucks — brought up Parker’s name. What is clear is that Parker would have been part of an outgoing package that included a larger Bucks contract, such as John Henson‘s or Greg Monroe‘s,” per Begley.

Jabari Parker – Trade Bait?

The 22-year old Parker is eligible for a rookie scale contract extension as he enters his fourth NBA season. Durability has been Parker’s biggest issue since he was picked no.2 overall in the 2014 NBA Draft. The former Duke Blue Devils standout just played a total of 152 games over three seasons because two ACL injuries.

Although Bucks executives are optimistic Parker will recover from his recent injury, they would probably let Parker hit the market as a restricted free-agent next summer. In that scenario, Parker can sign any offer sheet but the Bucks have the rights to match.

The Bucks still face the risk of losing him, especially if an interested team offers a back-loaded contract.

It would be a nightmarish situation for the Bucks should they lose a former top-2 prospect without compensation. Expect the Bucks to shop Parker between now and February trade deadline, though the asking price would be awfully high.