The Utah Jazz is still searching for a new identity after losing All-Star winger Gordon Hayward to free agency last summer. Head coach Quin Snyder admitted that there’s no silver bullet in finding another perimeter player who can provide the same impact as Hayward had in seven seasons in Utah.

Donovan Mitchell has been flat-out amazing through his first two months in the NBA. The dynamic rookie is averaging 17.3 ppg on 41 percent FG shooting and 37 percent from 3-point line. He also chips in at least 3 assists and 3 rebounds per game and provides excellent perimeter defense on the opposite end of the court. Still, Mitchell has plenty of work to do before he becomes Utah’s top guy.

Next year, the Jazz are expected to make a run at several free agents to address their need at the small forward position.

The Jabari Parker gamble

According to Mike Sorensen of the Deseret News, the Jazz is a legit contender for Jabari Parker in next year’s free agency because of his affiliation with the Church of the Latter Day Saints which has strong ties in Salt Lake City. The former No.2 overall pick had BYU on his short list of potential landing spots before he eventually picked Duke in 2012.

The Jazz will have the cap flexibility to present Parker with a max offer sheet worth around $100 million over five years, thanks to outgoing contracts of Derrick Favors and Rodney Hood. The Milwaukee Bucks can match an offer sheet for Parker, but doing so would most likely put the small market franchise over the luxury tax threshold.

The Jazz could also pitch to Parker the idea of a Big 3 featuring him, Mitchell and Rudy Gobert.

Despite his overwhelming talent and potential, investing a top-dollar contract in Parker entails some risk. He did average a career-high 20.1 points on 49 percent FG shooting last season, but suffering a second ACL injury also raises questions about his durability. Parker needs to erase that doubt when he comes back from his recent injury. A strong second-half and playoff campaign would catapult Parker to the top-tier level of free agents in the summer of 2018.

The other contenders

It’s going to be a tough squeeze for Bucks to retain Parker’s service next season, with their payroll for 2018-19 NBA season projected at $103 million. There might be a way for Milwaukee to create some wiggle room [VIDEO] for Parker, though finding takers for the contracts of John Henson ($10.5 million), Mirza Teletovic ($10.5 million) and Matthew Dellavedova ($9M) would be a painstaking process.

The Philadelphia 76ers is another team that could make a run at Parker once he hits restricted free agency.

The Sixers will target top-tier free agents like LeBron James and Paul George next season, though they also view Parker as a pretty nice fallback option. Same goes for the Chicago Bulls who are expected to have a massive cap space next summer ($40 million). The Bulls already have a promising young core in Kris Dunn, Lauri Markkanen, and Zach Lavine, and the prospect of adding Parker, a Windy City native, seems to be the next step in their rebuild. The Lakers could also crash the party as another suitor for the young wingman, especially if they feel LeBron James isn’t going to Hollywood. At 22, Parker is still a nice piece to develop alongside Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and Kyle Kuzma. Throw in the possibility of adding Paul George, and the Lakers suddenly become a legit playoff contender. #NBA Rumors #Nba Free Agency #Jabari Parker