MILWAUKEE — Jabari Parker has always been a player of interest for local fans because he is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who once considered going on an LDS mission and once put BYU among his five finalists for where he would attend college.
Parker, who was drafted No. 2 overall by Milwaukee in 2014 after playing a year at Duke, has been out of action since February when he tore the ACL in his left knee for the second time in his career. He’s not expected back for two more months, approximately a year after his latest injury.
With the emergence of Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo and the end of Parker’s rookie contract approaching next summer, Parker’s future with Milwaukee is a bit up in the air.
Parker and the Bucks didn’t negotiate a contract extension before the deadline in the fall, meaning that Parker will become a restricted free agent next summer.
“Who knows, that’s a tough one, that’s a million-dollar question, or maybe a 100 million-dollar question,” said a Milwaukee reporter about what Parker might do.
The Bucks, who signed Antetokounmpo to a $100 million contract last year, would have to clear some cap space to sign Parker to a max contract. And if they wanted to offer him less, then another team could snag Parker with a contract offer.
Like most players, Parker, who has been working out with the team and even traveling with them (he made the trip to Utah last month) has kept quiet, saying all the right things, like wanting to stay with one team.
The Jazz had some interest in Parker the year he came out when they had the No. 5 pick (with which they took Dante Exum), so perhaps they could swing a deal for him next summer or before.
But one of the questions with Parker is his durability after two major knee injuries in three seasons. Two players the Jazz have to make a decision on next summer, Exum and Rodney Hood, have also been plagued by injuries.
As a rookie, Parker played just 25 games, averaging 12.3 points on 49 percent shooting and 5.5 rebounds per game.
The following season he was healthy for nearly the whole season, missing just six games as he shot 49 percent again and 5.2 rebounds per game as his scoring rose slightly to 14.1 ppg.
Last year his scoring went up to 20.1 ppg and he again shot 49 percent, while increasing his 3-point shooting from 25 percent to 36.5 percent. But he went out on Feb. 8, a week after playing in Utah.
JAZZ NOTES: The Bradley Center was a busy place Saturday with a high school game, a junior varsity game along with some games for youngsters. The Bradley Center will be replaced by a brand-new $524 million arena next year that is being built right next door to the north. The new arena will seat 17,500 with 10,000 seats below the concourse. In Utah’s 121-108 victory over Milwaukee two weeks ago, the Jazz made a record 18 3-pointers on 32 attempts. Saturday night, the Jazz were just 8 of 23 from 3-point range. Raul Neto left the game after playing two minutes in the first quarter with concussion-like symptoms after getting knocked in the head by Milwaukee’s Thon Maker.