Apparently, when the Milwaukee Bucks informed us it would be a year before we saw Jabari Parker in uniform again, we should’ve taken them for their word, since coach Jason Kidd told reporters on Wednesday that the 22-year-old is expected back almost exactly a year after undergoing ACL surgery.
Parker tore his left ACL on Feb. 9, 2017, and underwent season-ending surgery on the ligament for the second time in three years five days later. He was assigned to the G League’s Wisconsin Herd for a rehab stint last month, and Kidd provided an update this week, via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
“He’s doing great,” Kidd said. “Again, he’s doing everything; he’s practicing, he’s participating with the Herd. So, he’s getting a lot of basketball under his belt. Again, I think we’re about a month away from having him back.”
So is Kidd expecting Parker to return in mid-February, before the NBA All-Star Game break?
“Yeah, I think it’s always been that, I think, that week before the all-star break.”
Kidd pinned down a timeline that previously pegged Parker for a more vague February return. After a four-game East Coast road trip, the Bucks host games against the Atlanta Hawks and Denver Nuggets in the days leading up to their All-Star break from Feb. 16-22, and a return then might be a confidence boost before getting some extra rest for a stretch run that will feature high expectations in Milwaukee.
The Bucks are 18-12 since trading for Eric Bledsoe and 22-18 overall — good for sixth place in the Eastern Conference, just two games back of a home playoff seed with a half-season left to play.
Due to injuries, Milwaukee’s triumvirate of Parker, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middletown have played the equivalent of just one season together since the Bucks drafted Parker No. 2 overall in 2014. Now, with Bledsoe in the fold, that group could be a scary proposition in the East, if healthy, especially if Antetokounmpo plays at an MVP level and Parker can regain anything close to the form that had him scoring an efficient 20.2 points before suffering the second ACL tear of his young career.
The second half of the season will have added importance for Parker, who becomes a restricted free agent this coming summer. He was reportedly seeking a max contract extension from the Bucks prior to the season, but the two sides were unable to come to terms while Parker was continuing his rehab.
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