It hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing for Jabari Parker in Sacramento.
The No. 2 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft arrived at the trade deadline from Atlanta alongside Alex Len so that the Kings could shed the salary of Dewayne Dedmon. He was inactive the first four games of his Sacramento tenure with a shoulder injury, then played one game against Memphis before being put back on the shelf for the next nine contests. Then, the season was suspended.
This video captures every point Parker has scored for the Kings.
In a way, the league shutdown has been a blessing in disguise for the newly-acquired Parker. He can rehab his injured right shoulder without having surgery and get himself in position to contribute to the Kings if and when the season returns.
For Parker, this time has been spent trying to stay in shape and undergoing physical therapy for the shoulder injury he suffered earlier in the season; since the trade that sent him from the Hawks to the Kings ahead of the deadline, Parker has only played one game.
”It’s been good because I didn’t have to have surgery,” he said. “I was going to wait to see how my body responds without surgery. It’s been positive so far.”
Eventually, Parker will have to start thinking about his upcoming free agency. He owns a player option for his contract next year, and thus can decide whether or not he wants to remain in Sacramento.
On the one hand, Parker hasn’t exactly shined this season, so he might prefer the security that comes from exercising his player option. The league is losing significant amounts of money with games being suspended, and there may not be enough cap room available for a player like Parker. Then again, he has the freedom to choose what he wants and what kind of role he would like to play:
”I just have to go where I get a fair opportunity and see where I can be the best for myself.” Parker said.
If opportunity is what Parker is seeking, the Kings may not be the right fit. Marvin Bagley is one of the franchise’s future cornerstones, and he should occupy the bulk of the center minutes going forward. Richaun Holmes is also under contract for the next two years and was a steady starting center for the first half of the season before he got hurt. Sacramento would presumably like to bring back Nemanja Bjelica as well, given the space he provides at both frontcourt positions. Parker hasn’t been a part of the rotation yet with Bagley out and Holmes missing a long stretch of games, though the Kings have been giving big minutes to Harry Giles and Alex Len, both of whom could be gone next year.
Parker, entering his seventh season, is probably best suited as a bench scorer who can generate some offense out of the high post. There could be a role for him alongside Buddy Hield in the second unit. However, Luke Walton has shown more affinity more players who excel on the defensive end, rather than microwave scorers, which could limit Parker’s minutes.
The Kings had interest in Parker as a free agent in the summer of 2018, but that was under a different coaching staff. Given the team’s reluctance to play him thus far — while Len, who came in the same trade, has immediately found a role — it seems unlikely that Parker will find the role he is looking for in Sacramento.
Do you think Parker's “fair opportunity” will be with the Kings next season?