Parker's Chicago Bulls expectations should be lowered, but is he OK with that?

  • Chicago Bulls' Jabari Parker (2) drives to the basket as Indiana Pacers' Tyreke Evans (12) defends him during the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, in Chicago.

    Chicago Bulls' Jabari Parker (2) drives to the basket as Indiana Pacers' Tyreke Evans (12) defends him during the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, in Chicago.


There were some obvious reasons why the Chicago Bulls signing of Jabari Parker never made sense in the first place.

Quite simply, the Bulls already have Lauri Markkanen and Bobby Portis at power forward, while Parker isn't really suited to play small forward.

So it shouldn't have been a surprise that coach Fred Hoiberg decided to change course in the fourth preseason game and try bringing Parker off the bench.

But maybe it did catch Parker off-guard. The Chicago native declined to speak to reporters before or after Wednesday's preseason win over Indiana. He did talk Thursday at the Advocate Center, saying he didn't feel prepared to answer questions the previous night.

"I try to not just get emotional; understand that there's a theory to everything," Parker said. "I just tried to do my best to do what I could."

Hoiberg wouldn't commit to sticking with the new lineup in Friday's preseason finale against Denver at the United Center. But why wouldn't he? The Bulls played with great energy throughout the contest, looked much better on defense and rolled over a Pacers team that played a regular-season rotation.

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The full change was starting Portis and rookie center Wendell Carter Jr. instead of Parker and Robin Lopez. Portis scored 20 points, while Carter got in some foul trouble but looked solid defensively.

Parker had a nice first half against the Pacers, producing 11 points and 4 rebounds in 14 minutes. His outside shot started falling for the first time in the preseason.

"Regardless of what (the role) is, I just have to play the way I know how," Parker said. "I think in the past I was thinking (too much). But now it's just I've got to play now. (Not starting) would be a huge adjustment for me, but I've just got to change with the times."

The unknown factor here is whether Parker can adjust his expectations. He was a high school superstar at Simeon, the No. 2 pick of the 2014 draft and will be paid $20 million this season. But after two ACL surgeries, becoming an NBA all-star probably is not realistic.


Give credit to Hoiberg for flipping the script early. Instead of letting Parker fail in a starting role in front of friends and family, he's trying to put the 6-foot-8 forward in a spot where he can succeed. Lower the expectations now, and if Parker can surpass them it will be a victory.

His salary isn't really relevant. The Bulls gave him an expensive one-year deal to pry him away from Milwaukee. If things work out this season, a likely scenario is Parker signs a much smaller contract to stay in Chicago long term.

Is Parker OK with this scenario? Is he willing to accept whatever role fits him the best?

We don't know. I asked him that question Thursday and his response was "no comment."

Signing Parker still could be a positive for the Bulls. The two greatest teams in modern NBA history got important contributions from former all-stars turned role players -- Ron Harper for the 1990s Bulls and Andre Iguodala for the current Golden State Warriors.


Parker never reached all-star status in Milwaukee, so a better comparison is Warriors guard Shaun Livingston, a former top-five pick whose path to stardom was derailed by a severe knee injury. Obviously, the Bulls' rebuild is a long, long way from Warriors territory, but the same sort of scenario could apply here.

Time will tell if Parker is willing to make this work. But shifting gears now probably is best for all parties.

"As a staff, we're going to do everything we can to put our guys in a position to be successful," Hoiberg said.

That statement appears to be true in this instance.

• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls


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