Hawks’ Parker won’t rule out return to Bucks

MILWAUKEE — After a Wednesday morning shootaround with the Atlanta Hawks, Jabari Parker took some time to soak in the atmosphere of the newly constructed Fiserv Forum before sharing his honest thoughts.

After spending his first four seasons in the league with the Milwaukee Bucks, the former No. 2 overall pick now returns as Atlanta’s third leading scorer with 16.9 points per game — his most since 2016-17.

“It’s real special, man, how they were able to build this building,” Parker told ESPN. “I haven’t played here but just seeing like the growth of the city, I really like the way that it’s developing.

“It’s just so sad that I’m not able to share it with them and that they moved on, but that’s fine, that’s business, but I do have like a little homesickness from being here. I just miss being here.”

Parker faces a player option for 2020-21 with the Hawks after signing a two-year, $13 million contract on July 11. He wouldn’t rule out a future return to the first NBA organization that he called home, either. That’s only if the opportunity presented itself.

“Never. I would never rule out a possible return here,” Parker told ESPN. “I would never do that. It’s just so sad how it ended and I wish I could’ve stayed.”

While he says he’s happy in Atlanta, Parker feels his joy for the game is “almost there,” again.

“It’s growing continually but in order to get that 100 percent joy and passion it comes with winning,” Parker said. “I just want to be a winner.”

During the 2018-19 season, he initially signed as a free agent with his hometown Chicago Bulls before an abrupt end, stemming from a fallout with head coach Jim Boylen. On Feb. 6, he was traded to Washington before ultimately inking his current deal in Atlanta. After some heavy soul searching, Parker returned to Chicago all summer to work out solely at DePaul University while waiting for the call where he “gained a sense of self.”

Offense has never been an issue for the 15.2-point career scorer. However, his defense has raised some concerns. He ranks 242nd out of 256 forwards with a defensive efficiency of 116.2, according to NBA Advanced Stats.

“He’s been a great scoring punch for us offensively which is who he is and what he does,” Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said. “Defensively, he uses his voice. The biggest challenge for him is the level of engagement that he can offer, being able to do that consistent and often but he knows that. “He’s still a young guy in terms of age.”

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