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Jabari Parker Is Hunkering Down in California While the NBA Season Is Postponed

Jabari Parker
New Orleans Pelicans v Sacramento Kings | Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

NBA players are not allowed in team practice facilities for the foreseeable future as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Six-year veteran Jabari Parker, who joined the Sacramento Kings in February, is staying in Northern California with family during these quiet times.

"I look at the positive out of this," Parker told The Big Lead during a phone interview Sunday. "It's been able to bring me closer to my family."

On a typical Sunday, he'd be at church. But church is closed for safety reasons. It's a change to the routine, and adapting to change has become the new routine.

"Unless you have a basketball court in your house or outside, then that's the only way you've been able to play," he said.

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."

Parker had been in the midst of a quality stretch of basketball prior to the injury. Playing in 32 games for the Hawks, he averaged 15.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game. Getting traded out of the blue is never something anyone wants to happen, but he appreciated the Hawks' professionalism in handling the process.

There wasn't the risk of him finding out about the deal on social media because he doesn't know his Twitter password. But having the team call him personally meant a lot.

"It was so good getting a phone call from the Hawks because that's professionalism," he said. "Not that they owed me one, but it's just real good that I get notified by them because that's the people who traded me."

The two-year deal he signed with the Hawks this past offseason included a player option for the second year. Therefore, despite the trade, the immediate future of his career is in his hands.

"I just have to go where I get a fair opportunity and see where I can be the best for myself." Parker said.

Before the season was postponed, the Kings were only 3.5 games out of the eighth seed in the Western Conference. The night everything came to a halt when Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus, the Kings were getting ready to tip off against the Pelicans in Sacramento for a nationally televised game on ESPN. Parker's Kings were out for warmups, but the Pelicans were nowhere to be found on the court that night.

"We went out during the normal time that we usually go lay the ball up," he said. "Time is ticking. Eleven minutes come, ten minutes come. We were like, 'Okay, this is strange.' The latest time somebody would come out was like 15 minutes to warm up, 14 minutes. That's at least what I've seen in my career. As the time started ticking down from nine minutes to eight minutes, we were like, 'They're not coming out.'"

The game was eventually canceled.

"About five minutes to go, they told us they chose to forfeit the game because of health risks, which was very reasonable," he said. "We had to go into the locker room. No one knew. We talked it over with management, and they told us just to be safe; everyone can go and be dismissed."

The team training staff does keep up with them daily via the team's group text message.

"They check in every day to see how we're doing," he said.

As for the NBA season as a whole, there is no telling what league commissioner Adam Silver and the board of trustees will end up deciding. Right now, there is no clear answer when the season should resume.

"I think it's fair for those teams that they get a chance to play it out at least," Parker said. "You never want to not finish something that you started."

At the same time, he understands how the logistics could pose a serious issue if the season extends until late into the summer or beyond.

"How do you start the season if it's held within July and August," he said. "How do you start the season for next year? Think about the Olympics, and certain guys are going to leave in August and September. If the seasons still going on, then how do you get an Olympic team rolling?"

There are no easy answers right now.

"People want to get paid to provide for their families and other things that they have, and those are the things that you consider," he said.

In the meantime, the former Duke star is not going back to his home in Chicago. Instead, he will continue watching cartoons and appreciating the warm weather and fresh air in California with his family.