Bulls forward Jabari Parker

Kamil Krzaczynski/USA Today Sports

Jabari Parker: 'Huge Adjustment' To Come Off Bench

The Bulls have moved Parker to a reserve role for now.

October 11, 2018 - 1:02 pm
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(670 The Score) A day after refusing to speak with reporters following his demotion to the second unit, Bulls forward Jabari Parker on Thursday mostly took the high road in comments about the change while also acknowledging that it would be a "huge adjustment" for him.

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

"I just want to be able to get on the floor and hopefully maximize whatever I have to do."

Asked what reasoning he given for coming off the bench, Parker indicated the explanation he received was "just a different lineup." The Bulls made the change after Parker started the first three preseason games at power forward and after they'd been lethargic in back-to-back losses most recently. The switch had its intended effect, as the Bulls had a strong start en route to a 104-89 win against the Pacers on Wednesday at the United Center.

Bobby Portis started in Parker's place, continuing his stellar play with 20 points and six rebounds. Beyond that, the Bulls' produced a better defensive effort, holding the Pacers to 39.2 percent shooting. Parker had been targeted often by foes on the defensive end amid the Bulls' team-wide defensive struggles in the first three games.

"Nothing is set in stone" at this point regarding the Bulls' starting lineup, coach Fred Hoiberg said, but he added he was pleased with the new-look group Wednesday that also featured Wendell Carter Jr. starting in place of Robin Lopez at center. Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and Justin Holiday also started.

"I loved our energy, I loved how we came out of the gate," Hoiberg said.

Parker pushed back at the notion that he'd be "disappointed" if he moves into a bench role full time, but one of his later responses suggested he harbors some disdain for just that.

He was asked, "Are you willing to take whatever role fits you the best right now?"

"No comment," Parker replied.

Parker scored 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting Wednesday, when the Bulls made a point to have him initiate and serve as the fulcrum of their second unit. Parker had a strong first half, scoring all 11 of he points and producing efficiently before struggling in the second half. Parker is shooting 26.5 percent in four preseason games.

He admitted moving to a reserve role would be a big challenge. Parker has started 150 of the 183 career games he's played in.

"It would be a huge adjustment for me," he said. "I just got to change with the times.

"Regardless of what it is, I just got to play the way I know how. I think in the past, I was thinking. But now, I just got to play now."

Hoiberg was optimistic about the work of the starting group and how Parker fit on the second string, suggesting what he's termed an "experiment" will continue. The Bulls host the Nuggets in their final preseason game Friday night, then open the regular season against the 76ers next Thursday.

The Bulls had originally planned to start Parker at small forward, but they shifted him to power forward when Lauri Markkanen suffered a severe elbow sprain in the first week of training camp.

"With the second unit -- and I talked to Jabari about this -- was to try to use him in more of a facilitating role and put the ball in his hands and really kind of use him as a point forward," Hoiberg said. "And I liked the look of it. So we'll continue to experiment.

"We're still going to evaluate everything, but I did like the look of both units last night."