Celtics Notebook: Team takes a flier on Jabari Parker

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Jabari Parker’s NBA stock has plunged since the second pick of the 2014 draft initially made a splash, averaging 20 points in his third season with Milwaukee.

But by signing the power forward to a two-year contract after he was waived by Sacramento earlier this week, the Celtics are willing to take a longer-term look at a player who is now on his sixth team in six seasons.

Most recently, Parker spent the majority of his time on the bench in Sacramento, appearing in only nine games for the Kings over the last season and a half.

“Well first of all, Jabari’s been a good player in this league for a few years now and he’s obviously had a rough couple of last stops,” said coach Brad Stevens. “As you saw by the details that came out, this is a plan beyond this year and we’re going to be patient in bringing him along.”

When at his best, Parker is a potent, skilled offensive player who can match up against big forwards and small-ball centers. He’ll likely compete with Semi Ojeleye and Grant Williams for backup minutes.

“We’re looking mostly at him as a guy that can play some 4 for us, but also maybe some small-ball 5 in some lineups, especially around some of our better players as a ball-mover, as a passer, as a playmaker, as a driver, as a guy that can put the ball in the basket and is a real threat to put the ball in the basket,” said Stevens. “Obviously there will be some size challenges with that. It hasn’t always been the case this year, but right now we can put a pretty versatile, long group on that floor.

“And just having more options, depending on who we’re playing, as we move forward this year, and then also next year, we thought that was a really good thing for our team. And hopefully this is a place where he can re-find his groove. I think that’s important and we’re going to work hard to help him.”

Parker was also available to play against Golden State on Saturday due to the absences of Jaylen Brown (non-COVID illness), Rob Williams (knee soreness) and Evan Fournier (health and safety protocol).

Fournier nears return

Fournier, finally out of health and safety protocol, re-joined the team Saturday. His return to the rotation shouldn’t be far behind.

“I’m guessing that he’ll be in the gym tonight. I don’t know if he’ll be out on the court,” said Stevens. “But I saw him this morning and he seemed really happy just to be around people and see others. But he still has a few days to go before he goes through all his tests and all that stuff. So it’s going to be certainly not today, certainly not Monday, and then we’ll go from there.”

Giving time to the Time Lord

The team doesn’t sound concerned about the left knee soreness that forced Williams to miss the last two games, including Saturday night against the Warriors.

“Rob just still has got that small bit of swelling on the back of his knee, but he’s getting better. He’s feeling better today,” said Stevens. “I don’t know what Monday will look like, but he’s right around the corner from playing. So they re-evaluated him when he got back, and he did some things this morning.”