The Bulls’ Jabari Parker is either settled in with his new role or a good liar
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PHILADELPHIA — Either forward Jabari Parker has a great poker face or he’s resilient as heck.
A week after expressing obvious displeasure with his new bench role, the former Simeon standout appeared to be fine with the situation Thursday.
“It doesn’t matter,’’ Parker said when asked if his new role just so happened to become permanent this season. “It doesn’t dictate my play. It shouldn’t because I get the opportunity to be on the floor, and that’s all that counts.’’
It’s a far cry from last week, when coach Fred Hoiberg made the move and Parker blew off the media twice.
He called it a “huge adjustment’’ when he finally did speak, then insisted he didn’t receive any explanation, even though Hoiberg said he sat down with Parker and explained the decision.
So why the change?
Parker’s sudden shift will remain another unexplained mystery.
“I just want to get the flow going,’’ Parker said. “I don’t want to be stagnant. It’s really a move for myself, but any position I’m in, I just try to improve.
“Just for me, just accepting what anybody throws at me, that’s more my challenge. You know, just try to improve and get better at what I need to do.’’
Parker was signed by the Bulls this offseason after the Bucks pulled his qualifying offer, making him a free agent.
He signed a two-year, $40 million deal, but the Bulls have the option for next season, so it could easily be a one-year, $20 million tryout.
If Parker shows enough and the Bulls see the season sliding away, they could try to move him for a draft asset. That scenario is plausible because that second year remains a team option no matter who acquires him, and his contract can be treated like an expiring deal on the market.
So playing better than he did in the preseason would be a win-win for the Bulls and Parker on multiple fronts.
“It’s just in the area of trying to get better every day,’’ Parker said when asked where his game is at. “I don’t want to put a title on it. It’s just what I can control in the moment and keep on improving.’’
Still not there
Swingman Denzel Valentine (left ankle) was still sidelined, but he said he was close, and if it was a Game 7 of a playoff series, he’d be able to go.
Valentine practiced Wednesday, and if he can get through practice Friday, he might play in the Bulls’ home opener Saturday.
Reserve Cristiano Felicio also missed the game against the 76ers with a sore ankle.
Vote of confidence
Guard Zach LaVine made huge progress defensively this preseason, and one of his teammates wants to make sure it stays that way.
“That’s my guy,’’ point guard Kris Dunn said. “On the defensive end, I just told him, ‘You’re as fast as me. You’re more athletic than me. There’s no way you shouldn’t be a good defender in this league. You could be one of those guys who could be dynamic in the passing lanes because you’re so athletic and fast.’ ’’