Remember Jabari Parker? Let’s recap really quick: after signing a two-year, $40 million contract (with a team option in the second year) to return to his hometown to play basketball professionally, new head coach Jim Boylen has exiled Parker to the bench because of defensive effort/player-development priorities/whatever.
Even with Bobby Portis out with injury, Parker hasn’t played a minute in eight games.
Parker, in a tell-all interview with the Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson late last week, is at least trying to be accepting of the role change without lashing out:
“I don’t think it’s Jim’s [Boylen’s] fault,” Parker said. “It’s bigger than Jim. I think it’s the overall organization and the direction they’re going. I’ve done everything that’s been asked of me. I didn’t complain. I never had an argument or confrontation with anybody. I’ve done what I do.”
A major criticism of Parker has been his defense, a part of his game that he himself dismissed as unimportant before the season. In his interview with Johnson, he again shrugged off his mistakes on defense (although much more subtlety and indirectly) and insisted that he’s the same player now as the Bulls thought they were getting when they signed him over the summer.
“I’m not perfect, right?” he said. “The game is about minimizing mistakes. Guys get back-cut. Guys get a certain amount of points scored on them. But it’s not the end of the world. I’ve improved on all facets. You can’t just point out a few mistakes and say, ‘Hey, you got to sit out.’ That’s not the game because I offer so much to it.
Parker’s effort hasn’t been great. But seriously, send the message that he needs to play harder a different way. Healthy DNPs are more in the line of embarrassing him.
There’s no reason that Parker shouldn’t be getting backup power forward minutes. But Boylen continues to push intangibles as the reason behind his decision.
“From my seat, he needs to lock into practicing hard, playing hard and honoring the values of the team, which I’ve set forth,” Boylen said. “He knows what my expectations are.”
Boylen only added to the indignity when comparing Parker to the rest of the roster’s bottom:
“Just like Cam Payne, just like Cris Felicio. You do your work, stay ready. That’s part of your job; that’s what you get paid for. And be ready when called upon.’’
Jabari deserves some kind of resolution, but for now he can only wait.
“Honestly, I just want to play,” he said. “I’ve stayed ready. I want to play meaningful minutes — not 4 minutes and nothing for the rest of the game. I just have to wait for that chance and opportunity.
“There’s a bigger picture here, so I’m staying prepared and patient.”
It doesn’t look like there will be any movement in the trade market, as Parker (again, for emphasis) is making twenty million for this season, and the only speculative deals available involve the Bulls taking back longer-term salary. So it’s more likely it’ll be an eventual sad contract buyout, or Boylen giving in and playing the guy.