Bulls forward Jabari Parker talks, plays like he would rather be elsewhere
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Give Jabari Parker credit. No Bulls player has been more consistent this season.
The same lack of energy he has displayed far too often in his 10-game sample size is the same lack of energy he has brought to his postgame media sessions, when he actually decides he wants to offer his two- to four-word replies.
Here’s Parker, after the loss to the Warriors on Monday:
Reporter: Your view of the game?
Parker: “We lost.”
Reporter: What went wrong defensively?
Parker: “They scored more points than us.”
Reporter: Did it feel personal that Warriors players kept feeding Klay Thompson to get the three-point record?
Parker: “Personal? Next question.”
That’s inside analysis worth every bit of the $40 million general manager Gar Forman spent on the former Simeon High School standout for the next two years.
OK, let’s give Parker the Mulligan. It was an embarrassing loss. What kind of mood should he be in?
Fast-forward to Saturday after a loss to the Rockets in which Parker filled the stat sheet with 15 points, three rebounds, no assists and seven turnovers.
Reporter: Can you explain why you guys have these lulls from quarter to quarter?
Reporter: Why do you think it’s happening?
Parker: “I don’t know.”
Reporter: Why so many turnovers?
Parker: “Just, I don’t know.”
This has been some special kind of homecoming.
Yes, Parker’s role has been juggled, moving from starter to bench player, shifting from power forward to small forward and then back to power forward. But what kind of homework did Forman do on Parker, and how did he figure Parker would fit in this locker room?
The Bucks walked away from the No. 2 pick in the 2014 draft for a reason.
With so many solid decisions made in the early stages of this rebuild — from matching the contract offer for Zach LaVine to the drafting of Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter — it’s almost as if Forman couldn’t get out of his own way again.
He made Parker the 42nd-highest-paid player in the league this season, in the same salary zip code as LaVine, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler and Victor Oladipo, and the return has been a guy ranked 213th in the league in PER (Player Efficiency Rating) and 10th on his own team.
Not sure what PER is? It’s the overall rating of a player’s per-minute statistical production. Stephen Curry leads the league at 31.30, and the league average is 15.00.
The good news is the Bulls own the option on Year 2 of Parker’s deal, so they can cleanse themselves of 245 pounds of mope by the summer. But the key to this season was development, and all Parker has done is steal minutes from a younger player who could use them.
He’s definitely not a defensive role model, and he admitted that the day he signed. He’s not a motivational locker-room leader by most accounts. And his offense comes and goes.
Parker never seemed to recover from losing his starting job during training camp, and credit coach Fred Hoiberg for not letting homecoming hype cloud his decision-making.
What’s left is a guy who acts and plays like someone who would rather be elsewhere.
That will happen soon enough.
Just don’t ask Parker about it.