New Bulls forward Jabari Parker showed Wednesday that he can defend with the best of them.
Parker questioned a writer he thought besmirched the ‘‘legacy’’ of fellow former Simeon star Derrick Rose, then kept that defensive — almost defiant — tone going when asked about his own comeback story from two surgeries on the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
‘‘If you didn’t see the games last year . . . I pretty much showed that,’’ he told a writer.
So much for the feel-good homecoming for Parker, who recently signed a two-year, $40 million contract with the Bulls.
Now, if coach Fred Hoiberg only can get Parker to play with that kind of defensive fire on the court . . .
Appearing on The Score (670-AM) later in the day, Parker did little to squash the defensive concerns that come with a player who will cost the Bulls $20 million this season and another $20 million in 2019-20 if the team picks up its option.
‘‘They pay people to score the ball, and I would hope that somebody scores the ball on me if they pay them that much,’’ he said on the station.
He followed that with this: ‘‘I just stick to my strengths. Look at everybody in the league, they don’t pay players to play defense. . . . I’m not going to say I won’t, but to say that’s a weakness is like saying that’s everybody’s weakness because I’ve scored 30 and 20 on a lot of guys that say they play defense.’’
Finally, he said this: ‘‘A better offense wins a championship.’’
Since the Bulls signed Parker, one concern that has loomed large is teaming him with shooting guard Zach LaVine on the defensive end. LaVine’s defensive rating (114.8) ranked 511th in the NBA last season, and his defensive win-share ranked 514th. Parker’s defensive rating (109.5) ranked 433rd in the league last season, and his defensive win-share ranked 353rd.
Meanwhile, the Bulls are exploring a switching-type defensive concept heading into this season. That means putting LaVine and Parker on an island without much help.
‘‘We have been experimenting with pretty much a whole new system these last couple of weeks while we were in Vegas [for Summer League], and there were some things we really liked with what we did, as far as the trends in the league and the switching defenses, what teams are playing,’’ Hoiberg said.
‘‘I think Jabari and Zach will both fit in very well with that type of system. They’re both very athletic; they both have great feet. And we should be able, in my opinion, to take a step forward with our defense this year. Jabari is a guy that can play multiple positions. He can guard multiple players on the floor.’’
That definitely will be tested — sort of like Parker’s patience with anything Rose-related.
‘‘Derrick had no lows,’’ Parker said when he was asked about Rose’s highs and lows. ‘‘He didn’t because he still maintained. Derrick is a legend, no matter what. I don’t like how you explained that.’’
‘‘Injuries are a part of life. Everyone has an injury, no matter athletics or normal life. Derrick is one of the best players to have played the game and one of the best icons in Chicago.’’