SALT LAKE CITY — Before Saturday night, Jabari Parker had played in just one of Chicago’s last 13 games after being relegated to the Bulls’ bench by coach Jim Boylen.
Parker is well-known in Utah because he is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and owns a home in South Jordan. Before he went to play collegiately at Duke, he listed BYU among his final five schools.
After being the No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft and playing with Milwaukee for four seasons (with two ACL surgeries), Parker signed with his hometown Chicago Bulls this season.
However, after being taken out of the starting lineup by former coach Fred Hoiberg, Parker has been sent to purgatory by Boylen, apparently for his lack of defense and poor attitude, according to Chicago media.
When Boylen was asked before the game why Parker, a former No. 2 draft pick, was not playing, he was matter of fact about it.
“He’s out of the rotation right now,” he said. “He’s working at it, and he’s practicing. It’s hard to play 11 or 12 guys so that’s where it’s at. Other guys are out of the rotation, too, and have to keep working and growing. You wait for your opportunity, and when it comes you need to play.”
That opportunity came Saturday night against the Jazz as Parker entered the game with 4:10 left in the first quarter and logged nine first-half minutes with seven points and four rebounds overall. For the night, he finished with 11 points and seven rebounds, but he didn’t play in crunch time when the Bulls were keeping it close against the Jazz. The 19 minutes he played were the most since Dec. 10.
“Jabari played well, at the 4 position he was good,” Boylen said after the game. “He’s a good passer. We’re were down three and he hit Zach (LaVine) for a curl … we need those opportunities.”
Before the game, Parker talked about his situation in Chicago and expressed a desire to play in Utah if the opportunity arose.
“It’s not as planned, but that’s fine,” he said. “I’m just keeping good perspective doing what I can to control my attitude, and my performance just always staying positive.
When asked if he’s ever thought about playing for the Utah Jazz, Parker said, “Yeah, I have. I already have a home here, and I visit here frequently.”10 comments on this story
Parker signed a two-year, $40 million contract with Chicago before this season with the second season being a team option.
The 23-year-old claims he doesn’t know why he has been benched by Boylen for the past month and indicated that he wouldn’t mind playing for a different team.
“It’s nothing that can be explained, just his gut feeling,” Parker said. “I’ve just got to respect that. He’s the head coach, but I also want to do what’s best for me. Hopefully I can get somewhere where I can show my talent, and I can be treated accordingly, too.”